Recycling Challenge: Mirrors

FACT

Glass used in mirrors contains additives that make them unsuitable to throw in the blue bin.

PROBLEM

Unlike glass used for food and beverage containers, which must comply with food safety regulations, glass used for items like drinking glasses, windshields, light bulbs and mirrors utilize additives like plastic, lead or other metals to add strength and reflective properties. As a result, these additives render the glass impossible to recycle without the use of special equipment. Unfortunately, this means these items can’t be processed at a regular municipal recycling facility. And although mirrors are inert in a landfill, it’s still not a great idea to send them there when they could have a second life in someone else’s home, or as a beautiful mosaic.

SOLUTION

If your mirror is in fine condition, donate it to a charity or reuse organization. Good options include the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore (2930 Jasper St., 215.739.9300, habitatphiladelphia.org/habitat-philadelphia-restore) or The Resource Exchange (2829 Cedar St., 267.997.0060, theresourceexchange.org). If you have an antique mirror, it might be worth something, so consider contacting one of our city’s consignment shops or antique dealers.

If your mirror is broken, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South St., 215.733.0390) will be happy to take the pieces off your hands for incorporation into mosaics. Smaller pieces can be dropped off at the main office. For larger pieces, they ask that you drop them off around the back of the building on Kater Street. Hours vary seasonally, so call or visit their website (phillymagicgardens.org) to find out when they’re open.