Dear Recyclebank: Can I recycle Pyrex and other cooking glassware? —Tom P.
Dear Tom: If you’ve done much cooking or baking, you’ve probably used glass bakeware, but did you know that these products are made of a completely different kind of glass than that of glass bottles? The chemical composition of glass determines its hardness (or brittleness), clarity, and thermal resistance. Heat-resistant glass, which glass cooking ware is made of, commonly consists of soda lime and a heat-resistant material, with a very low thermal expansion co-efficient. This means the glass expands very little when exposed to extreme temperatures. Heat-resistant glass is great for cooking and baking because it can withstand high heat with a lower chance of breaking. Unfortunately, this type of glass is not recyclable — in fact, it’s considered a contaminant to container glass recycling.
Note: Even container glass is not always accepted for curbside recycling, so it’s important to check with your hauler to see what they will and will not accept before putting anything in your recycle bin.
Pyrex has become the colloquial brand name synonymous with heat-resistant glass cookware. Pyrex and other heat-treated bakeware and kitchen glass cannot be recycled, so if it’s no longer useful in the kitchen, throw it in the trash, or repurpose it.
Why Isn’t Heat-Resistant Glass Recyclable?
Glass is melted down in the recycling process. The high melting temperature of heat-treated glass, and its added chemical compounds, make it incompatible for recycling with ordinary container glass — container glass also needs to be separated by color to maintain its chemical integrity. Because of these complications, any glass cookware you may have needs to stay out of your recycle bin. Sadly, the correct place for any unusable glass cookware is in the trash.
But there are many uses for old Pyrex that can prolong its life outside the kitchen and potentially help you avoid buying new items!
Repurpose Your Glass Cookware
Since glass alone makes up for 5 percent of garbage in the landfill, consider repurposing your glass cookware for non-cooking-related things. Some fun ideas include: Making a bird bath, a hanging light fixture, a candy dish, a potting planter, or a sorting bowl for garage or home office supplies. If your Pyrex is still in good shape (crack and chip-free), you may also want to consider selling it online or at a vintage shop, as many people collect vintage Pyrex.
To reduce landfilling, try your best to care for (and find new uses for) your glass cookware, to prolong its life.
Prolong The Lifespan Of Your Glass Cookware
You may be able to add some extra years to your Pyrex by following proper care and use instructions. While glass bakeware is dishwasher safe, regularly putting it in the dishwasher may shorten the lifespan of the product, so consider hand-washing your heat-resistant glass dishes with perfume-free and dye-free dish detergent. Avoid using a bristle sponge; use a soft sponge instead. If food is stuck on the dish, soak it in hot, soapy water for about an hour prior to washing.