How to Recycle CDs (It’s Easy!)

How to recycle CDs | Can CDs be recycled | Reuse CDs

Before we moved last spring, I did a thorough inventory of all our possessions to determine what we didn’t need anymore. Among the clutter was a rather large assortment of useless CDs. Perhaps you have a similar collection: mix CDs from your pre-iPod days, out of date software, music you no longer care for, and even promotional CDs from AOL and the like. Throwing all those CDs in the trash felt weird, so I decided to do some research. Turns out you can recycle CDs! And not only can you recycle them, but you really should recycle them.

Why You Should Recycle CDs

According to the CD Recycling Center of America, CDs contain a number of recyclable materials, including polycarbonate, aluminum, lacquer and gold. When properly recycled, these materials can be reutilized to make new items. Recycling saves mining virgin materials as well as reducing the use of natural resources—like water, natural gas, and oil—that are needed to process those virgin materials.

Can Your CDs Be Reused Instead of Recycled?

Reusing items is always more eco-friendly than recycling, so do consider whether your CDs have any use left in them before deciding to recycle. Your local library, for instance, may take CD donations. I’ve also found that Freecycle is a great option for giving away things you don’t need or want anymore. (Read how I use Freecycle to learn more.)

If you’re artsy, there are also many craft ideas that utilize old CDs.

How to Recycle CDs

You have a few options for recycling your CDs. Organizations like the CD Recycling Center of America and Back Thru the Future Technology Disposal accept CD donations through the mail. You pay the shipping costs but there is no fee for the recycling services. (Since CDs qualify for media mail shipping, your shipping costs should be reasonable.) Depending on where you live, you may also be able to find other, more local donation centers.

Some recycling services will also recycle old jewel cases . Be sure to check before including jewel cases in your shipment or donation.

My Experience Recycling CDs

After learning that you should recycle CDs, I boxed up all of our unwanted CDs and jewel cases and took them to the post office to mail them to the CD Recycling Center of America. The process was pretty quick and painless and I don’t think I spent more than a few dollars on shipping. It felt great to get some clutter out of our apartment—and I felt extra good knowing that I was saving a few useful items from the landfill.

Now I just need to avoid accumulating unwanted CDs in the future. Unfortunately that’s not always up to me…but at least I know what to do with them if they do show up. 🙂

Did you know that you should recycle CDs? What have you done with your old CDs?


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24 Responses to How to Recycle CDs (It’s Easy!)

  1. What a great post. We transitioned away from CDs and DVDs except in the car and sold most of our CDs and DVDs at yard sales. But I will now recycle the ones we burn for car use when they are done. Thanks for the tip!
  2. Janis says:
    Great ideas! I get LOTS of demo CD's from music companies, and they have been going directly into the trash. I'll start collecting them instead.
  3. Angela says:
    This is great! I didn't know CD's could be recycled. Will keep it in mind for the next time I clean out my office. Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday.
  4. November Posts I'm Grateful For - Link Love - Food With Kid AppealFood With Kid Appeal says:
    [...] how to recycle CDs.  dear self, tell kids about this, love me. [...]
  5. [...] even know it was possible to cure tooth decay? A lovely lavender mist recipe. A good reminder: how to recycle CDs Why we don’t get the flu shot. [...]
  6. Felix Nagel says:
    I honestly wish there is a way to recycle CD's or DVD's in a way that they become useable (the space) again. But another great Idea I tried before was to make old CD's into a small table or wall clock. You can just get the clock mechanism (Motor)from old clocks and some of them actually fits perfectly with the hoel in the DVD's / CD's.
  7. tim says:
    Hope you had a nice Christmas. I was looking over your website site and came across this page. about recycling cds and dvds, and was hoping our recycling company would be suitable for a mention? Brief intro on our company. "Recycling CDs, DVDs and another type of disc or case, servicing both businesses and personal customers"
  8. […] a girl to do?  Well, I found this great website that accepts them for free for recycling  I will have to pay for shipping, which I’m fine with doing.  It’s not like I’m […]
  9. John Jorgensen says:
    How about how to not pay money to recycle something we already paid money for? I want curbside media recycling, or at least a local place I can take it to. People who recycle tend to be environment conscious, and therefore don't have much money to spend (because making lots of money is a kind of theft if you look closely enough).
  10. Leda says:
    This is exactly what I needed to know. Thank you!
  11. Meredith says:
    What a useful post, Megan! Sharing on my social media :)
  12. […] ideas about ways to limit my environmental impact. Meghan at Whole Natural Life explains how I can recycle CDs we no longer need. I’m not exactly happy, but certainly glad to know about yet another hidden […]
  13. Margarette says:
    My library accepted all of my old music cd's. Those in retail cases, not home burned ones.
  14. Tyler says:
    I agree with Margarette's comment on donating them to the library. This is a much better option than simply recycling them all together. This is especially true if they are in good playable condition. This extends their life so much too. I'm a patron of the library and like to rent CDs often. It makes me feel good knowing they will go to good use. Most CDs are not worth anything if trying to sell so it's a great option. I will however be recycling all of my burned CDs once I get through them since their is little to be done with them otherwise.
  15. ann says:
    Best Buys tells me they do not accept CDs for recycling.
  16. Paul Bartlett says:
    Hi, I just read your post on recycling cds & cases. I manage a small non profit thrift store. And yes we take cds & dvds in donation but lately we have been only recieving unusable discs (cracks & scratches). Also in the past 6+ months dvd sales have tanked since more & more people are downloading movies & music. Currently I have about 1,000 unusable discs and its too costly to send through the mail. All the ideas I have found are outdated & overdone any new ideas for 2017? Or should I just fill up the dumpster & let the next generation worry about it. Over the next few years as entertainment shifts to more mobil sources we are going to see a very large increase in the need for recycling discs. I see several billion discs filling the landfills if we don't do something now.
    • Cathie says:
      20 years ago, I was given a stack of 100 blank Disc's. I have been unable to fill 95 of them. So today, I decided to clean out my laptop of saved pictures I have taken over the years. With the first disc I inserted, I instantly got a warning statement,saying that the disc was no longer viable. I couldn't even reformat them. Its a shame but I have a lot of discs for craft.

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