Glue is a common item found around the house. It is great for arts and crafts projects, repairing broken china, building furniture and many other things.
When you squeeze the last drop of glue from its bottle, or use up the last dab of glue in a glue stick, you may be tempted to toss it in your recycling bin. Unfortunately, you will need to curb that urge. Glue bottles and glue sticks cannot be recycled through your curbside recycling program unless your community specifically lists them as a recyclable item. You may be able to recycle glue bottles and glue sticks by taking them to your local recycling center, but those programs are rare as well.
Chances are you will need to find a way to reuse your glue bottles and glue sticks, or reduce the amount of glue you buy. Seem impossible? Check out the ideas below.
What are glue bottles made of?
Glue bottles and glue sticks are made of plastic. While the bottles are often labeled as #1 or #2 plastic, they cannot be recycled with other #1 and #2 plastics. I’ve read two things: There is a special chemical added to glue bottles, and they have a different melting point than other plastics. I am uncertain which is correct (it is possible both are correct), but one thing is certain: many recycling programs across the country specifically list glue bottles and glue sticks as items that cannot be recycled.
How to recycle glue bottles and glue sticks
TerraCycle used to offer a glue bottle and glue stick recycling program in cooperation with Elmer’s Glue, but it has since been discontinued. Until it is revived, you will need to search for another place to recycle your glue bottles.
Your first call should be to your local recycling center. They may have a bin where you can place empty glue bottles and glue sticks. This is much more common than finding a curbside recycling program that accepts them (although you can always ask about that, too). If you are going to recycle a glue bottle, make sure you wash the bottle well before dropping it off. Also, clarify whether the cap can be recycled as well.
If this option does not work out, you can look into reusing old glue bottles. You can also explore ways to purchase fewer glue bottles.
How to reuse glue sticks
Elmer’s, the company that makes the white glue people remember from childhood, has a fun idea
for reusing glue sticks. Gather up a bunch of old crayons and sort them by colors. Place the crayons in a glass salad dressing bottle and carefully melt them. Once they have been liquefied, pour them into the glue sticks to create brand new crayons. More detailed instructions for this activity are available on their website.
How to decrease the amount of glue you buy
Make sure you take good care of your glue so you do not have to throw out the bottle until it is empty. Most glues contain water, which evaporates when exposed to air and leaves only the adhesives behind. If you leave the lid off the glue bottle or glue cap, all that water will evaporate and leave you with a lump of unusable material. Supervise children using glue bottles or glue sticks, and make sure you get in the habit of putting the lid back on every time you use the bottle.
As is the case with many liquids, you can buy large bulk bottles of craft glue to pour into your smaller bottles. That will leave you with one big bottle and cap to recycle or throw away rather than a whole bunch of little bottles.
Most of the glue alternatives available to crafters are quite wasteful. Glue dots and similar products come on strips of waxed paper that are not recyclable. When you are gluing together cards and placing pictures in a scrapbook, try to use as little glue as possible. Or look into alternative ways to affix items. Things like staples and brads can become part of your design and make your projects look even better.
Minimize the amount of glue you use to hold together furniture, or find a different way to put together wood pieces. See if you can use wood or nails in place of glue when making bookshelves, cabinets and tables.
If you are buying super glue or a similar product that tends to dry out quickly, buy the smallest tube you can find. That way, you will not have to throw away a large container if you do not use the entire thing. Even better, see if you can borrow the glue from someone else.
If your kids love art projects, try making glue with them. They will be excited to use the final product in their craft projects. You can create a simple paste using common household ingredients such as flour, sugar, corn syrup and water. Check out this link on Family Education for several recipes
Keep in mind that you can often continue using glue even if the bottle says it has expired. This article
in Today’s Homeowner explains that as long as wood glue still pours smoothly out of the bottle, it is probably still fine to use. Wood glue can often last up to 10 years as long as it does not dry out. It stands to reason this is true of other types of glue as well.