How to Recycle CDs and DVDs
CDs and DVDs can’t be recycled curbside with the rest of your bottles and plastics, but they can be recycled by companies that specialize in recycling these types of materials. Here are your options if you want to recycle CDs and DVDs.
Sell them at secondhand stores.
Don’t toss those CDs and DVDs if they are still in working order! (Well, not the burned CDs from your middle school clarinet recitals, but you know, any commercially produced media.) Many secondhand stores that sell books and media will offer you something for them, or at least give you some store credit. Sell them at your local resale shop or through an online service like The CD Exchange.
Offer them up to your local Buy Nothing group.
The Buy Nothing Project is a fantastic movement that connects people locally to give and get free stuff from their neighbors. I belong to a Buy Nothing group on Facebook and it seems like there is someone willing to take almost anything that is offered on there. I highly recommend checking them out.
Check to see if your community hosts periodic e-waste drives.
Start with your local recycling program or solid waste district/trash removal program. They may accept items like CDs and DVDs on special drop-off days.
Look for local dropboxes.
Our county solid waste office has a drop box in the lobby where you can drop off CDs, DVDs and jewel cases anytime. Yours may do the same or can maybe direct you to a local business where you can find one.
Greendisk specializes in recycling CDs, DVDs and jewel cases. You will buy a box from them, and send back once it is full of CDs and DVDs for recycling. They also accept other items like ink cartridges, cell phones, videotapes and more. (This is a pricy option, so if you can find someplace locally to drop them off, try that first.)
These work in a similar way to the Greendisk boxes, which both take CDs and DVDs, but some of the other accepted items are slightly different for TerraCycle vs Greendisk, so check the details to see which one is the best fit for your needs.
What about Best Buy?
Best Buy does offer a bunch of free recycling programs for electronics, but currently they do not take CDs or DVDs. Click here for a detailed list of the items that Best Buy accepts for recycling.
What happens to recycled CDs and DVDs?
Here is what Greendisk says about what happend to the materials you send them:
We use a network of non-profit organizations to process the material. We refurbish what we can and recycle the rest. Inkjet cartridges get remanufactured and, when possible, cell phones and some computers get refurbished. Material that has no further operating life is broken down to its smallest components (metals, plastics, etc.) and used in the manufacturing of new products. Unlike some recycling companies, almost 100% of the material that GreenDisk collects is reused or recycled. No hazardous materials or obsolete components go overseas to be processed or disposed of.
What about the jewel cases?
Yeah, these are plastic, but most municipal waste programs don’t want this type of plastic in your recycling bin, so stick with recycling them through dedicated services like Greendisk.