What to do with old tableware?

Tips on upcycling, repairing, and proper disposal

The porcelain terrine you simply no longer need, the plate with a small chip right at the filigree gold rim or the single coffee cup with a pattern doesn’t match any other piece at the coffee table: There are many reasons to get rid of tableware. But what to do with crockery when you no longer need it?

Find out how to professionally dispose of discarded porcelain as well as the alternatives that exist
in addition to dispose of it in our guide here.

UPCYCLING - MAKE SOMETHING NEW FROM THE OLD

Grant discarded tableware a new life

Retired cachepots or small bowls can create order on any desk or table. They can hold pens and pencils or can be used to store all kinds of utensils. Pretty patterns on porcelain plates in different sizes can be used to hang on the wall as classic wall plates, or they can be made into clocks, for example. To fasted the plate, use strong adhesive band or wall plate hangers. 

Even broken ceramic can be conjured into a new composition to make a striking appearance. Pieces of fine porcelain can be used to decorate picture frames, mirrors and entire walls and glow in a new light. Colorful versions can be combined to make wonderful mosaics. There’s not limits to your imagination when it comes to upcycling.

Is it worth repairing porcelain?

For single pieces, if possible, do not make the effort that it takes to repair porcelain bits. But for precious pieces in an elegant dinnerware set, the effort to keep a uniform look is often worth the trouble. It is essential that all fragments are carefully gathered and set aside. Otherwise, only a professional restoration can put the precious pieces and chips back together in a whole. Especially exquisite pieces are worth a try when it comes to repair.
To do so, follow these steps:

  1. First, carefully reassemble the fragments.

  2. Then carefully clean the broken edges with solvent, otherwise the adhesive will not adhere sufficiently.

  3. Use a special porcelain adhesive to apply along the edges and then press the broken pieces together for a few minutes.

  4. Remove any adhesive residue.

  5. Allow the glue on the porcelain to dry at least 24 hours.

Disposing of old tableware

Cups that have broken, or other small dish pieces that are no longer used for aesthetic reasons can be put into the trash without a problem. Never, however, put tableware into the recycled glass container because porcelain is made of kaolin, quartz and feldspar through a complex production process which results in a different chemical composition than the glass used for packaging. It needs a higher temperature to melt. Improperly disposed porcelain cause great problems in the recycling process for old glass. Larger amounts of ceramic belong in materials recycling where they are sent to a professional disposer.

Cups, plates and bowls that are broken or have small chips are also the perfect thing for a ‘Polterabend’ - a pre-wedding party, particularly common in Germany - which offers the occasion to smash crockery and china to bring luck to the wedding pair. If there might be a wedding coming up in the near future, consider such a party. And don’t forget, after the party to properly dispose of all the crockery shards.

Sell or donate old tableware

You should also consider offering your discarded tableware for sale. Flea markets, which are held regularly in every city, are ideal for this purpose. It’s a place for people to come together and browse through the all the goods - and your old porcelain just might delight some collector's heart. Internet sales platforms are also available for selling your discarded porcelain. Under certain circumstances, you might still be able to earn good money on your old pieces. If you don't have the time, it's worth asking at a consignment shop about buying and selling. Usually, the store takes over the sale for you in exchange for a commission.

Before you dispose of your old tableware, you should also consider making a donation for people in emergency situations. Many non-profit organizations accept donations of ceramic and china gratefully.

The bottom line

Disused tableware - ideal for gifting, selling or beautifying

Sometimes even the most exquisite piece in your porcelain collection breaks. If even professional repair can’t save it, it needs to be properly disposed of. For plates, cups, and salad bowls, there is usually an alternative to disposal: Gifting, selling or beautifying - with just a little effort, discarded porcelain pieces can find takers or creative ways to be used. And you get a little more space in your cupboard again for something new.

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