4 ways to recycle cds

Filed in Blog, Recycle by on September 16, 2010 15 Comments
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4 ways to recycle cds

4 ways to recycle cds

This week I found some cd jewel cases I no longer wanted when decluttering my office. I also have some cds and dvds to get rid of. These aren’t the sort of discs I could pass on such as music, audio stories, films or computer software, they are more along the lines of personal information such as computer file backups and photographs.

For music, audio or computer programmes, you can sell or donate them, Try eBay, Amazon or Music Magpie if you want to sell them secondhand, otherwise donate to a charity shop, library or offer them on Freecycle.

For my small collection, however, offering them on freecycle or donating to a charity shop is out of the question and as you’ll have cottoned on by now, I don’t want to keep them for an endless list of craft projects that I will never get around to doing.
I don’t want bird scarers, coasters, mobiles, a fly swatter, a suncatcher, Christmas decorations, an ice scraper, glittery fish or a bullet proof vest made out of cds thankyouverymuch. I want S P A C E and for my old cds to be disposed of responsibly.

So what ideas do you have for me? So far I’ve come across the same companies who will deal with the cases, which is very handy for reducing postage costs, plus a couple of others:

Mobile phone housing

1- Polymer Recycling remove the paint and aluminium on cds until they are left with polycarbonate which is them made into light lenses or mobile phone housing. They were set up in 1996 predominantly to serve the music industry who turn up at their premises with 40ft wagons filled with obsolete cds. Polymer Recycling are responsible for keeping 50 million cds a year out of landfill.

Electric cable insulation

2- London Recycling suggest I destroy or even break in half discs before sending them if they are confidential and then they will recycle them for me. Used discs are made into electric cable insulation, burglar alarm boxes or street lighting.

From discs to clocks

3- ​Recycling cds​​​​​​​​​​​​ will turn your cds and dvds into clocks! You can find out exactly how your disc becomes a clock with their FAQs page.


4- The ReCycling People will happily destroy and shred your confidential discs before granulating them. The granulated material is then sent on to other companies for reprocessing.

We all know ‘reduce’ is the first of the three Rs, so why not make the commitment to switch to using re-writeable discs? This means you can simply record over your latest file backups.

What about you – what do you do with your old cds? I’m particularly interested in what you do with those you have recorded yourselves, such as photos and computer backups.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (15)

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  1. Diz says:

    I hoard mine until someone on Freegle puts out a yell for them, I scuff the surfaces on the garage floor so make them unreadable. They seem to be in demand as birdscarers and for strange art and sculpture creations. The empty boxes are also in demand for people to store their backups/photo CDs.

  2. Here in the US Best Buy will recycle cds. I have a bag full to take next time I go to one. 🙂

  3. Mrs Green says:

    @Diz: Funny isn’t it? I’ve never seen them asked for on our local groups. Thanks Diz; it’s worth bearing in mind.
    @Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green: Thanks for the heads up on life across the pond; always great to hear about what our US friends can do with items

  4. Emang says:

    Hello Mrs Green,

    I thought I would pop by and I found this blog post very interesting. I did not know CD’s could be recylced and broken down to create raw materials. I recently attended the ethical fashion forum in London, October and came across Ethnic Supplies. There was a beautiful colourful fruit basket on display. I could not believe what it was made of. The Zulu people of South Africa weave these baskets out old scrap, telephone wire to be precise. Have a look on the following link, you may have to scroll down to find these wire baskets, very beautiful! http://ethnicsupplies.org/ethnic-supplies-shop

  5. Ben says:

    Finding secondary uses for old CDs is great as they’re just everywhere now. I’m also exploring ways to avoid having old CDs to dispose of as well. Once they were expensive things, now they’re quite disposable with many people keeping a stack of them on their desk to burn files and give away with no expectation of their being returned or used again.

    I’m swapping files with people on memory sticks now, rather than CDs, to save waste and money. Memory sticks always seem to come back, while CDs often don’t.

    The ways in which you can get software/games without packaging and disks is also expanding now with many software companies offering a download and an electronic manual. In a similar way some music providers are offering CD quality downloadable music files. Great for saving resources and space in the house, although unfortunately not so good if you ever want to give the disk away or sell it in the future. A slightly more traditional option for films is to borrow the disk rather than buy a copy.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Emang: Hi Emang, Glad you found the post on cd recycling interesting. I love the fruit baskets; they’re beautiful. I couldn’t find the ones made from telephone wire, but found ones made from natural materials such as plantain leaves. That’s definitely a site to bookmark! I love how the Zulu people take something we view as rubbish and utilise it as a resource – we have such a lot to learn.

    @Ben: Ben, brilliant point that I hadn’t stopped to think about. You’re right – we give away cds, but perhaps memory sticks is the way to go. Great points too about downloads – really thought provoking …

  7. There are many ways to re-use CD’s through art & crafts.
    Clocks is a failsafe idea that has already been mentioned, as CD’s have a pre-cut hole, and simply need decoration, and a clock mechanism.
    Once of my favourite ideas is to cover one side in felt, and use as coasters, great presents, and very attractive.

    For the above ideas, you can use the back of CD’S for a modern shiny effect, or use the printed side on musical CD’s, to show off your passion, and display the album art work.

    CD’s can also work as reflectors: by glueing 2 together shiny side out, and tying up outside, they work well to keep birds away from crops.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle Morgan: I like your coasters suggestion as many people just use them as they are; adding the felt seems much better and more personalised.

  9. michellemorgan says:

    @ Mrs Green, No worries 🙂 I like contributing.
    The main benefit of the felt is, like most mass produced coasters, if you line the underside you wont scratch your surfaces 🙂

  10. Karin says:

    Hi, here’s an other idea: you can use them for redecorating! for some time i kept throw away discs and now i’m making a “mirror wall” in the entrance of my new apartment, gluing the shiny sides side by side. It looks great 🙂
    In South Africa i saw a township house decorated in the same way with empty chips bags which looked really modern..

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Karin: Hi Karin, thanks for sharing your decorating idea; I bet the shiny wall looks fantastic – a real talking point!

  12. Marjon says:

    Hi, I turned an old CD in a glass coaster. (sorry can’t post an image of it)
    On the shiny back side you can make a drawing with coloring pencils…

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Marjon: Hi Marjon, good to see you – thank you for sharing your idea about turning a cd into a glass coaster!

  14. Fiona says:

    I looked at the links at the top of the page and London Recycling and The Recycling Pople links didn’t work. The Polymer recylcing site didn’t have and information about how to send them CDs. Does anyone know any more?

  15. I just leave them around my computer or on my shelf and they sit there for about a decade or more until i find out they still exist and use them again/give them to a charity shop.

    The only time iv’e really ever thrown away Cd’s or even cassettes is if a CD player breaks and i forget that there is a CD inside or it uses a slot loading drive or a tray that no longer opens or ejects. I wonder what happens to the CD’s left in the players that i have recycled?

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