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How to Recycle CDs and DVDs
Not too long ago, DVDs were the best way to watch the newest releases. You couldn’t wait to get your hands on newly released music by your favorite artist. Now, DVDs along with VHS tapes have become prime examples of “dead technology”. Nowadays, most of us utilize streaming services such as Netflix or digital storage, completely eliminating the need for physical storage of the media, which is more convenient and better for the environment.
So what, if anything, can you do with all those unwanted and unneeded DVDs and CDs filling up your garage or taking up space in storage? There are definitely better options than tossing them and sending them off to a landfill. Each of these obsolete formats can bring a few challenges when it comes to recycling, but there are options to avoid having them end up in landfills, where they will sit for literally thousands of years as they are not biodegradable.
DVDs and CDs are made up of a material called polycarbonate plastic which is notoriously difficult to recycle. The first thing to note is that this type of plastic cannot usually be recycled in curbside recycling programs. That doesn’t get you off the hook though, we’ve got plenty of solutions for you below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are CDs and DVDs Recyclable?
Yes. There are recycling centers all over the country that accept DVDs and will properly process them to be recycled. Since there is little to no money in this type of recycling, it can be tough to find, but with a bit of effort and some phone calls, you should be able to find one. The other option is to utilize a mail-in recycling service such as greendisk.com.
Can I recycle DVDs, CDs, and VHS in my curbside bin?
No. Curbside recycling programs do not accept DVDs and CDs because they get caught in the sorting machines, but both the discs themselves and the plastic cases are recyclable. Cardboard CD/DVD sleeves can be placed in your curbside recycle bin.
While it is possible to recycle all of those unwanted DVDs and CDs piled up in your garage or closet, the neighborhood recycling bin is not the place.
Where can I recycle my old CDs, DVDs, and cases?
Your city or county curbside recycling program should be able to direct you to a recycling location near you to drop off your old discs.
If there are no local recycling centers, companies like Greendisk, TerraCycle, or CD Recycling Center will accept your unwanted disks and recycle them through their mail-in program. Keep in mind most of these companies charge a fee for this service.
What are CDs and DVDs made of?
Both DVD and CD discs are primarily made of #7 polycarbonate (PC) plastic, which is what is read. This polycarbonate plastic is covered with a very thin layer of reflective material which is usually aluminum but can also be gold, and also a layer of acrylic or lacquer resin. Recordable/rewritable discs contain an additional layer of silicon dioxide.
What are CD cases and DVD cases made of?
CD jewel cases and DVD keep cases are made of #5 polypropylene (PP) plastic. Polystyrene plastics are often recycled through recycling centers. If you have plastic CD cases or plastic DVD cases that are empty, you may be able to recycle them in your curbside bins. You need to check with your city’s waste management site. More and more municipalities are accepting more types of recyclables, so there is a good chance that your empty cases can simply be added in with other household recyclables.
What are the benefits or recycling your old media (CDs, DVDs, Cassette Tapes, and VHS)?
Even if your town or city does not have a convenient recycling program, you should make the effort to find a recycling center, donate, sell, or do something with your old tapes and DVDs, etc. Keeping toxic plastics out of the dumpster, which ends up in our landfills, is the best reason to always recycle whenever possible. There are companies that specialize in buying old media and collectors who may pay a pretty penny for your unwanted items. For items that have no monetary value, there are creative kids who can turn your trash into treasure and have businesses dedicated to repurposing these items.
Keeping as much out of our landfills as possible is reason enough, but we can save resources and energy by recycling items. The discs are sorted and processed, then given new life as furniture, building materials, automotive products, or even office equipment. Sending your collection may take a little effort since you will need to box and ship them, but they are saved from ending up in the landfill, where they will sit as they do not biodegrade.
They may not be the easiest to recycle, but the effort is necessary and well worth it!
10 Facts About CD/DVD Recycling
- CDs/DVDs are made from polycarbonate plastic, which is non-biodegradable and can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.
- CDs/DVDs can be recycled into new products such as furniture, automotive parts, and insulation.
- The process of recycling CDs/DVDs involves grinding them into small pieces and melting them down into pellets.
- CDs/DVDs can be recycled at many local recycling centers and some retailers.
- CDs/DVDs should be recycled in their original cases to ensure they are properly recycled.
- CDs/DVDs should be wiped clean of any personal data before being recycled.
- Recycling CDs/DVDs helps reduce the amount of waste in landfills.
- CDs/DVDs can be reused for other purposes such as making art or jewelry.
- CDs/DVDs can be donated to organizations that accept them for reuse.
- Recycled CDs/DVDs can also be used to create new CDs and DVDs.
Sell DVDs and CDs For Cash
There are even more options for selling DVDs than there are with old VHS tapes. There are dozens of websites where you can look up your titles and see if they are worth anything. Many are set up for you to simply enter the number near the barcode, so that you can get an accurate quote. Believe it or not, there is a market for retro media. Many people are reverting back to 80s and 90s technology, and collect DVDs and even VHS tapes of the classics. Some of the biggest payouts come from horror movies, classics, wrestling matches, and Disney movies. Some have even turned reselling VHS and DVDs into a legitimate business, selling their finds on Etsy and eBay to eager customers. They often scour thrift stores and garage sales to find other people’s trash they can turn into cash.
Eaglesaver.com, is just one site where you can sell your DVD’s, CD’s, books, and games, will let you print a simple prepaid shipping label, ship off, and then get paid by check or PayPal. This makes it a pretty easy way to make some cash off those unwanted DVDs and most of these sites do the same for CDs as well. It may be worth checking several sites as prices tend to vary quite a bit. Depending on the title and condition, you could be getting anywhere from $2 to $20 per DVD. Sometimes, the price can reach up to the hundreds for specific hard-to-find titles in new or like new condition.
Of course, information like the condition of the DVD matters, and often as equally important is the state of the case or cover. If you are utilizing a site such as eBay, Decluttr, Mercari, or Etsy, you will want to take clear and accurate pictures of the products you are selling and be upfront about what condition it’s in. The same applies to music CDs. Some can be worth hundreds of dollars, while others not much at all. You will usually get between $2-$5 per CD as long as there are not lots of scratches. Check several sites to get the best price for your old clutter.
Where to Sell DVDs and CDs and VHS tapes:
We will list some of the top places to sell your old CDs and DVDs and other media. Each site may offer you a different price, so it’s best to check a few before selling. The payout price depends on how in demand your items are and, of course, their condition.
- eBay – an old favorite for selling used items. If you are familiar with this site and already have a sellers account, this may be the easiest route. You can set it up to have people bid on your item or ask for a flat price. This is a high volume website, so you may have pretty good luck finding buyers.
- Decluttr – is another great option for selling various things collecting dust in your closet. They accept small electronics as well, such as iPads, game consoles, cell phones as well as books! You can also purchase refurbished items, so if you’re upgrading, take a look here first. Use your credit for a “new” item for yourself.
- Mercari – the Mercari marketplace is another great option, especially if you have various items to sell. All that stuff lying around can find a new home and you can make a few bucks also. This marketplace is growing and depending on the demand for your specific media you could make some fast cash.
- Etsy – yes! Even CDs and DVDs can be sold in your Etsy shop. You set the price and you are in charge of the packaging, labeling, and shipping, but because of this you can also cut out the middle man and potentially, make a little more on your items.
- Music Magpie – is another online store that buys old CDs, DVDs, games and will also accept other small electronics such as cell phones, iPads, game consoles, Apple watches, and even laptops! If your decluttering your house, and want to make it a one-stop job, this may be the best bet for you. Make some money and keep all those plastics and BPA out of the land fill.
- WeBuyBooks – Don’t let the name fool you. This website buys much more than just books and will accept your CDs, DVDs, as well as video games. Their site is very user-friendly and you get a price estimate right away after entering the barcodes of your items. The labeling and shipping is at no cost to you, and your payment comes the next day. On top of all that, they even have an app to make it faster and easier.
- Facebook Marketplace – This is yet another option which could avoid packaging and shipping your items. Lots of people check the marketplace for items they’re searching for, but beware, a lot of buyers like to barter here and may try to get a lower price than what you’re asking, so price accordingly. If you only have a small amount to sell this might make the most sense.
- GameXchange – This is another marketplace that deals with all types of entertainment, such as DVDs, CDs, and video games for various consoles. The great option here is that you can also trade in your items and select new-to-you media. Another big plus is they have a convenient option to donate your unwanted items as well. You can select to donate all or a portion of your trade in value to various worthy charities.
Vintage Stock also known as Movie Trading Company or EntertainMART has several locations throughout the US and will buy used CDs, DVDs, video games, and more. If you would prefer to visit a local store in person rather than deal with selling online, this is a great option. Visit their site to see if there is a location in your area.
Downcycle or Upcycle DVDs and CDs
Just like VHS, DVDs and CDs are used by many nostalgic crafters and artists. From coasters and clocks to candle holders there are lots of ideas for making use of some of your old favorite DVDs you no longer use. One other common way to make use of them is tying them to branches of your fruit trees or around your garden to catch the light. It’s a free and easy way to deter birds from your garden and save your fruit. For more ideas on creative ways to use your old CDs and DVDs check out Pinterest or Etsy.
Recycle VHS and Cassette Tapes
Is it Possible to Recycle VHS tapes?
VHS tapes consist of several different parts and each is difficult to recycle. The outside, or case is made from different types of plastic, which can be recycled. The outside casing is made up of Plastic #5 so once separated from the actual tape inside, it can be recycled.
However, the tape inside is made up of plastic #1, which itself is recyclable, but very difficult since it is coated in a few types of metal. Since the mylar tape inside is difficult to recycle and hazardous, it is nearly impossible to find any local centers that accept VHS tapes. There are a few recycling centers that still accept VHS tapes, so check your local area. Just make sure you call and verify that they are still accepting them before you haul everything over, as policies are often changing. If you can’t locate a recycler who accepts them, then we have some other options listed below. They are not recyclable in curbside and they should never end up in your regular trash.
Where to Recycle VHS Tapes
If you cannot locate one in your area, you can try a service like Greendisk.com which will require you to box up your old collection and mail them. Greendisk.com is an upstanding and legit e-waste recycling company that can accept your VHS tapes as well as DVDs, cassettes, and more. They do offer a full service as well, where they supply the boxes and shipping, as well as a bulk option for larger loads over 500 lbs.
Sell or Donate Your VHS and Cassette Tapes
Surprisingly, there is still a market for some classic VHS movies and shows. Everyone is going Retro these days, and there is even a market for your old cassette tapes too, if you have any hanging around.
You can take a quick look online and see if any of your old VHS tapes are worth anything. Nostalgia sells in many instances. Some can go from $50 all the way up to $1000’s! Definitely check the old Disney VHS tapes from your childhood before purging them. Certain titles and release dates are worth hundreds, while others are basically worthless.
The biggest payouts come from classic Horror movies, Disney, and old wrestling videos of all things. There is an extensive list above of worthwhile sites to check out when you’re ready to purge your old media, including Decluttr, eBay, WeBuyBooks, and many others.
You can also take a few minutes to make a post on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace. You never know who may be interested, and it’s better to make a few bucks or even give them away than to toss them in the garbage. If you don’t have the time or just want to quickly get rid of them, then try your local Goodwill or thrift stores. Many accept these tapes and CDs, and you can get a small write-off for your taxes as well. This will help reduce waste, and someone else gets to enjoy them a bit longer.
Upcycling and Reusing VHS Tapes
Another option for all those old VHS tapes is upcycling or reusing them for anything from art projects to purses. A quick Pinterest search will reveal hundreds of ideas and images. Some crafty, artistic folks even reuse the tape from old VHS tapes and cassettes into a type of yarn and can create many unique projects like purses and lamps.
Retro is in…just check out Instagram or TikTok. If you’re stumped for ideas look around Etsy and you’ll find dozens of cool products and projects made from tapes or cases of old VHS and cassette tapes. You might find a useful tip or cool design idea to use as an example for your own upcycling project.
For more ideas, check out YouTube, a quick search for: upcycling VHS will turn up dozens of videos on how to spark your creativity. If you aren’t the creative type or the ideas don’t spark your interest, giving them away to someone who does might be a good option.
Any way you can keep these items out of our landfills is a good idea. It may take a little bit more effort than more common recyclables like paper or aluminum, but it is worth the effort. These items will not decompose in our landfills and can be used to find new life in new plastic products. Remember to check with your local recycling centers first, but if they do not offer these services, don’t be discouraged, a quick search on the internet will lead you to many options to rid yourself of that clutter responsibly.