If you want to reduce your waste output, you might be wondering, can you recycle CDs? Yes, you can, but you likely can’t just put them in your curbside recycling bin.
Recycling CDs is a little more complicated, but there are a number of ways you can avoid them ending up in landfill, which we’ll outline in this post!
Still holding on to your old VHS tapes? Use this guide to learn how to recycle VHS and cassette tapes responsibly.
How to recycle old CDs and DVDs
The average American creates around 4.5 pounds of trash a day, and around a third of this is recyclable. This includes old CDs and DVDs, which take over a million years to completely decompose in landfill.
Not only does throwing your CDs in the trash add to the world’s growing plastic problem, when they do eventually break down they’ll disintegrate into microplastics which can be devastating for the planet’s ecosystems.
You’d be surprised how much of what we throw away can be recycled, even if it can’t go through your town’s recycling program – and this includes your old CDs and DVDs. Here’s a few different ways that you can recycle and repurpose those dusty old CDs you have in the back of your cupboard.
Contact a recycling center
CDs are made from what’s classified as no. 7 or “other” plastic, which is more difficult than other types of plastic to recycle. Furthermore, the conveyor belts in most recycling centers are not designed for small, flat items like CDs, so they could get caught on the equipment.
That’s why many local governments won’t accept them in their curbside recycling.
However, it is possible to recycle this kind of plastic, as well as the traces of aluminum and gold that CDs sometimes contain. Many recycling centers do accept them, so with a little research, you’ll probably be able to find a center near you that will recycle your old CDs.
Earth 911 has a handy search tool that you can use to find a recycling center in your area that accepts CDs. All you need to do is enter your zip code and the material you want to recycle and the tool will tell you the closest service.
It’s also important to consider the different components of CDs: namely the CD case, the paper liner notes inside the case, and the CD itself. Check which of these parts the recycling center will accept and be sure only to deliver those components.
You can also check with your local council to see if they will accept the CD cases for curbside pickup. The paper liner notes are easily recyclable and you should be able to put them with your regular recycling.
Mail CDs to GreenDisk
If you can’t find a recycling center near you that accepts CDs, another option is to send your old CDs to GreenDisk. This company will take your “technotrash”, including CDs, and will recycle it responsibly.
For the cheapest service, you can mail your CDs to the company. They also offer a full-service option where GreenDisk will supply the boxes and shipping, as well as heavy-duty and custom services.
Along with CDs, you can send a range of other computer-related waste, including old laptops. GreenDisk will wipe your devices to remove any confidential data, recover any reusable components, and recycle the rest.
How to reuse old CDs and DVDs
Another option is to reuse your old CDs and DVDs. They can’t be recorded over, but they can be repurposed – here are a few ideas:
Sell them online
Just because you don’t want your old CDs or DVDs anymore doesn’t mean that someone else can’t enjoy them! Selling them is not only a great way to repurpose these unwanted items, but also make a bit of cash at the same time.
There are a range of online stores that buy old music and movies, or provide a platform to sell your CDs or DVDs directly to other users.
Here are some of the platforms you can use to sell your old CDs:
- Eagle Saver
- SellDVDsOnline (for CDs and DVDs)
- Book Monster (they don’t only sell books!)
- MusicMagpie (if you’re in the UK)
You can also give your old CDs new life by donating them to a worthy cause such as schools or nursing homes.
There are plenty of organizations that accept CDs and DVDs, from non-profit groups to thrift stores – ask around the local charities in your area and you’re sure to find someone who would welcome the donation.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
These organizations may be able to use the CDs for their original purpose, sell them to support valuable causes, or repurpose them for activities such as kids’ crafts.
Recycling CDs may seem confusing, as these items are highly-recyclable but you can’t put them in your curbside recycling bin.
Can CDs and DVDs be recycled together?
CDs and DVDs are made from the same materials, so can be recycled together. Typically, any method you use to recycle or repurpose your old CDs can be applied to DVDs too.
However, CD cases are completely different to DVD cases and need to be handled separately. While CD cases are made of hard plastic, DVD cases are made of PP5 plastic wrapped in PET1 film.
Some municipalities accept DVD cases in their curbside recycling programs, but you’ll probably need to find a recycling center near you that accepts this specific item. Whatever the case, you’ll need to slip out the paper insert, which will need to be recycled separately, and is usually accepted in curbside recycling bins.
Can you recycle CD cases and CDs together?
Although some recycling centers accept both, CDs and CD cases need to be recycled separately as they’re made of different types of plastic. Therefore it’s essential to specifically check whether the center accepts both components, and whether you need to separate them out.
What are CDs made of?
CDs and DVDs are made of a No. 7 polycarbonate plastic mixed with aluminum. Some also have trace amounts of metals such as gold. These materials are all highly recyclable, as well as valuable, which makes it worthwhile for centers to recycle them.
However, because the materials are mixed together, this makes them more difficult to recycle, which is why most councils won’t accept them in their curbside recycling bins.
Are CDs considered e-waste?
This is a rather controversial point, as some recycling programs in the US consider CDs and DVDs as e-waste, while others do not. If your local program classifies CDs as e-waste, you’ll be able to drop your old CDs off at e-waste deposit points or have them picked up as part of e-waste events.
Check with your local council to see what your options are, and remember you can always use the ideas outlined above to recycle or repurpose your old CDs and DVDs.
So can you recycle CDs?
The short answer: yes, you can! However, it’s probably not as simple as just putting them in with your regular recycling.
If you’re lucky, your local council may accept CDs and DVDs in their recycling program, and many do accept CD cases. However, you’ll need to check with them, and if not look for recycling centers in your area or use a service like GreenDisk.
Other options are to sell your CDs online or donate them to charity. By responsibly disposing of your CDs, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment and tackling the world’s devastating plastic problem.