How can CDs & DVDs be recycled?

After transitioning our music library to MP3 or other alternative digital formats, we found ourselves with CDs and DVDs to recycle. These media products are made of plastic, but not the same kind of plastic as bottles and food containers. They are a mix of various plastic resins. CD cases are polystyrene, whereas the discs themselves are polycarbonate. But before continuing with the topic, let me share with you a short background about CDs.

A compact disc or CD is a digital optical disc data storage format that was developed by Philips and Sony. It is mostly made of a plastic called polycarbonate, aluminum, and another layer of plastic and lacquer. Its main purpose is to store digital information. Before, CDs were a source of digital music recordings and storage of computer data.

What is the carbon footprint of a CD?

According to an American study, downloading an album of 60 to 100 megabytes uses an estimated 7 megajoules of energy and produces 400 grams of carbon dioxide.

Domination of CDs Era

The rise of CDs in the market took place within the Eighties, CDs have already overtaken vinyl. By 1991, overtaken the cassette. It reached its peak within the 90’s up to the early 2000s.

Fall of CDs Era

With the appearance of streaming service tycoons Spotify and iTunes, likewise, movie streaming applications like Netflix; CDs started to fall. The downfall started when digital downloading and streaming beat CDs in sales for the first time last 2014–2015.

Why recycling is important?

Because of the limited recycling market for plastic in these forms, there aren’t many options for recycling, but all types and formats of CDs and DVDs can be recycled, enabling the recovery of valuable resources such as polycarbonate (a type of plastic) and aluminum for reuse in the manufacture of other products. Disc recycling processes can recover about 98% of the original disc as reusable material. Many damaged CDs and DVDs can also be reconditioned, allowing them to be reused or resold.

Some products that can be made from polycarbonate involve the following:

- Water bottles

- Food trays

- Display covers

- Laboratory safety goggles

Furthermore, aluminum can also be transformed into other items such as:

- Foil

- Bike frames

- Staples

- Nails

- Computer parts

Steps of recycling

During the recycling process, the metallic coating is removed and the plastic is granulated and then recycled. Plastic CD and DVD cases are recycled along with other plastics of the same type. Any paper inserts are given to paper recyclers for processing. The recovered plastics and metals are used for manufacturing a wide variety of plastic products and metal parts.

How can I rid of many CDs & DVDs don’t need them?

There are many secondary markets for audio and video products. Your town likely has a local music store that buys music, or thrift shops and charities that will accept them for donation.

What if I have a grooved CD/DVD that needs to be repaired?

You can use a bunch of materials from around the house to repair scratches, ranging from toothpaste to a banana peel. There are also scratch filler kits available to purchase.

Originally published at



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Ahmed Ibrahim

Full-fledged Content Creator & Tech Journalist. Worked previously with top publishers like AkhbarTech, Abda Adv, and RobbReportArabia.