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A CD and DVD Recycling Guide

Technology is always changing. What becomes the standard medium evolves into something completely different and typically requires a new set of hardware. From vinyl to cassettes, CDs to MP3s and now, streaming music services, we find ourselves upgrading to the latest, greatest technology. But, what happens to the old stuff? Because CDs and DVDs can’t be put in the single-stream recycling bin, let’s show you how to reduce your waste through CD recycling.

What are CDs and DVDs Made of?

CD/DVD recycling is so easy because of the materials they’re made of. Even though CDs are made of highly valuable recyclable materials like polycarbonate plastic and aluminum, they’re not accepted in single-stream recycling bins. CD recycling saves substantial amounts of energy and prevents significant amounts of both air and water pollution attributed to the manufacturing of these items from raw material.

Each year, billions of CDs (and DVDs) are manufactured, while millions are simply thrown away. They end up in landfills and incinerators, which cause unnecessary damage to our environment, wasted energy, and the loss of valuable resources. Landfills are not a viable disposal option because CDs don’t break down readily. Over time, CDs can release Bisphenol A (BPA), which can cause health implications in humans. Burning CDs releases toxic fumes into the air we breathe, and they require a special recycling process that isn’t accepted in single-stream recycling bins.

Consider This:

  • To manufacture a pound of plastic (30 CDs per pound), it requires 300 cubic feet of natural gas, 2 cups of crude oil and 24 gallons of water.

  • It is estimated that it will take over 1 million years for a CD to completely decompose in a landfill.

  • More than 5.5 million boxes of software go to landfills and incinerators, plus people throw away millions of music CDs each year.

And This:

  • A CD can take 1 million years to decompose in a landfill.
  • CDs can be recycled for use in new products. Specialized electronic recycling companies clean, grind, blend, and compound the discs into a high-quality plastic for a variety of uses, including: automotive industry parts, raw materials to make plastics (Discs are ground into a gravel-like substance, which is sold to companies that melt it down and convert it to plastic), office equipment, alarm boxes and panels, street lights, and electrical cable insulation, and even jewel cases.
  • More than 5.5 million boxes of software go to landfills and incinerators, plus people throw away millions of music CDs each year!

What Can I Do?


  • Converting to a digital streaming service like Pandora, Spotify, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, or Apple Music are all great ways to listen to your favorite music.
  • Services like Hulu and Netflix cut down on the amount of DVDs you have to buy or rent to view your favorite shows.
  • By switching from physical to digital, you reduce the amount of waste you produce. As providers of content see that less physical media is being consumed, they decrease production on products that can produce e-waste.


  • Best Buy stores have a free CD/DVD recycling drop off just as you enter the store.
  • The Compact Disc Recycling Center was founded in 2006 to provide consumers and companies education, awareness, and options for easy CD and DVD recycling. The website provides valuable information on how to take part in and where to find CD recycling near them.
  • Free CD/DVD Recycling & Free Hard Drive Recycling services are offered by Back Thru The Future Technology Disposal to consumers.

If you have any questions about County Waste & Recycling’s residential service, or would like to request service, please contact us.

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