Recycle or repurpose your unwanted DVD’s and CD’s

I went through my CD’s a short while ago and given I’m involved with the IT and Internet industry for a living, I’ve amassed quite a few… hundred, ugh. I think most of us are in the same boat – music, video, data discs and increasing amounts of advertising material nowadays comes on CD and DVD media.

What to do with it all?

The bad news

CD’s and DVD’s are made from various lacquers and aluminium and sometimes goold; but by far most of their weight is the polycarbonate plastic – yet another plastic made from crude oil.

Landfill isn’t a good option as these things will be around for hundreds of years to come. They don’t break down readily and over time can release Bisphenol A, which has been in the news a lot of recent times due to health implications. Burning CD and DVD media releases toxic fumes.

The good news

We’ll get to some tips for repurposing CD’s and DVD’s shortly, but I just wanted to make mention that various organizations have sprung up in recent times that will recycle the materials in CD and DVD media. As well as the polycarbonate, some media types have as much as 20mg of gold which can also be reclaimed.

Usually the deal with these recycling services is that the service itself is free, but you need to pay the postage. It doesn’t matter what condition the cd or dvd is in; even broken ones will be accepted. If you wish to get rid of old CD’s with sensitive information on them, just cut them up with a pair of sturdy shears first.

Safety tip: I still remember very clearly the first time I attempted to destroy a CD in my hands. The darned thing shattered and there were sharp shards of plastic bits all over the place. If you need to destroy a CD or DVD, wear gloves and break it inside a container with  either your head turned away or wear eye protection.

Here’s a few organizations in various countries offering free DVD and CD recycling services.

North America

CD recycling center

CD Recycling For Free


Polymer Recycling provides a postal service for free recycling of unwanted CDs, DVDs and jewel cases. Call them on 0151 707 3684 or email (thanks to GLT reader Marcus for passing on that info).

London Recycling


Ausmag media

EcoDisc – DiscStation

CD and DVD Repurposing tips

– Take old music and video CD/DVD’s to a charity so they can resell them. Just because you’re over Duran Duran, doesn’t mean I am, I mean, others are :).

– Drink coasters. You’ll never need to buy another coaster again

– Birds attacking your veggie garden? Thread a few on a string and hang them up – the flashing from the sun’s reflection makes them a great bird scarer.

Make a CD Lamp

– Use CD/DVD fragments for mosaics

– Use as reflectors outside your house, along tracks and sidewalks

– Can be made into a mobile for your child’s room

– Make a letter holder

– If you’re handy with a crotchet hook, crotchet two circles the same size as the cd, place the cd in between and then stitch it up to make a pot or kettle pad

– Decorative wall hanging

One of the more creative uses I’ve seen is to place CD’s on a car dashboard which is said to deflect police speed radars. I think though that anyone who appreciates safety and saving gas just doesn’t speed in the first place and I’d hazard a guess that purposefully attempting to interfere with police radar is likely illegal in many countries anyway :).

Minimizing CD and DVD waste overload

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and there’s a few things you can do to lessen the amount of CD and DVD media that accumulates in your house.

– Use rewriteable DVD/CD media

– Download music and videos instead of buying them on disc

– Complain to companies that send you advertising on CD or DVD’s

– Ask your local video and music store to implement a DVD/CD drop-off recycling programs

Do you have some DVD/CD repurposing or recycling tips? Know of other organizations who offer free recycling services? Please share your advice and ideas below!