How to Recycle CDs and DVDs

Streaming services have changed how people consume media. Due to this, physical CDs and DVDs are often little more than clutter, taking up space in homes and landfills. To prevent these items from ending up in the latter, it is important to recycle them properly.

By Maryruth Belsey-Priebe

Fact checked by Sander Tamm

How to Recycle CDs and DVDs
Recycling CDs and DVDs / Ecolife / Sander Tamm

An Overview on Recycling CDs and DVDs

Many of us have stacks of old CDs and DVDs sitting in our home offices, not quite sure where they should go. Since DVDs and CDs are primarily made of plastic, they would take 100 to 400 years to decompose if you sent them to a landfill. Plus, they are often coated with a layer of BPA, a chemical that’s harmful to human health and the environment. Add to this the ubiquitous plastic and cardboard containers that come with new DVDs and CDs and it becomes easy to understand why it is crucial to recycle these items properly.

Unfortunately, most CDs and DVDs aren’t really worth that much unless you’re looking to get rid of old music or video games. That means the types of recycling programs for this e-waste are a little more limited than those for other more valuable electronic waste. Nevertheless, there are plenty of options for recycling CDs and DVDs. Tune in to the rest of this article to find out just how.

How to donate or sell secondhand CDs and DVDs

Obsolete disks of all sorts often create piles of chaos in our lives, but with these solutions for getting rid of DVD and CD waste, you’ll find that you’re living freer of e-waste!

  • First and foremost, we recommend that you avoid purchasing and using physical forms of digital media altogether if at all possible.
  • When looking for new digital media, remember that downloading, streaming, and cloud-based solutions are always eco-preferable.
  • Store your data on external or internal hard drives or use cloud-based services.
  • Donate useful DVDs and CDs: If you’ve got physical copies of digital media that you no longer need, local charities are likely to accept them. Call around to your favorite nonprofit organizations to see whether they’re looking for such donations. Alternatively, local libraries often accept donations of music and videos for their collection.
  • Trade in or sell secondhand CDs and DVDs: Music and video DVDs and CDS can often find new homes with people who have similar interests. First, call your local used book and music stores to find out whether they will take your music or videos on a consignment, trade-in, or cash basis. Alternatively, seek out online communities and marketplaces that specialize in trading and selling old CDs and DVDs.

Recycling CDs and DVDs

Sometimes there are no ways to reuse your old DVDs and CDs, in which case recycling is your next best option. Here are several things to keep in mind when looking for CD and DVD recycling solutions:

  • Wipe out data: If the DVDs and CDs you’re trying to recycle contain personal files and information, you’ll first want to wipe their memories so that you’re not exposing your privacy. Accomplishing this is simple – just give the discs a good scratch or damage them with a pair of scissors or a hole puncher.
  • Avoid cheesy, useless recycling crafts: If you’re able to find a truly useful and aesthetically pleasing way to reuse DVDs and CDs in your home, we’d like to hear about it! If you’re not decorating your home with a techno theme, DVD coasters and CD wall paper aren’t generally very attractive. Nor are these types of crafts a good use of the materials. Recycling is much greener in the end.
  • Find recycling options: Once you’ve prepared your DVDs and CDs for recycling, find a local collection center that will responsibly dispose of them. Recent years have also seen massive retailers like Target and Best Buy accept CDs and DVDs for recycling.