Recycling CD’s and DVD’s

by techtiptom

Originally posted to wibc.com on 04/25/2011

CDs (ie. Compact Discs) and DVDs (ie. digital versatile discs or digital video discs) comprise of a mainly polycarbonate (type 7 plastic) disc body (ie. 75% by volume), with dye and reflective layers on the surface. The dye layer (containing materials like metal azo) is needed for the storage of data, while the reflective layer (made of metals like aluminum or even gold) reflects light from the laser reader.

Sending CDs and DVDs to landfills is not the best way of disposing of them, as the materials used to make CDs and DVDs are not biodegradable. In fact, they may release Bisphenol A into the environment and have an adverse impact on our health. In turn, burning CDs and DVDs in incinerators releases much toxic fumes into the air.

The best way to go is actually to reuse and recycle CDs and DVDs.

Tips on recycling CDs and DVDs

Because CDs and DVDs aren’t worth very much (it is the data that costs!), you are unlikely to be paid when you recycle CDs and DVDs.

Nevertheless, it is important to recycle CDs and DVDs, because you are doing your part for the earth!

Over the years, the numbers of recycling companies that have taken on the task to recycle CDs and DVDs have increased.

It doesn’t matter what condition your CDs or DVDs are in. Even broken ones will be accepted. Nevertheless, shredded discs should never be mixed with other shredded materials (eg. shredded paper), as it can lead to contamination in the recycling process.

If you are worried about data in your CD or DVD, you can cut the CD or DVD into half using a pair of heavy duty tin shears first, before you send them for recycling.

Alternatively, you can destroy the CD or DVD by breaking it into two using your hands. But do remember to wear a glove and break the disc in a container or a bag. In this way, when the CD or DVD shatters, the sharp plastic bits of the CD or DVD would not hurt you.

What else to do with unwanted CDs and DVDs

In line with the Reduce Reuse Recycle principle of waste management, it is actually best to first reduce, and then reuse, rather than to recycle CDs and DVDs. Recycling your CDs and DVDs should come last.

Here are some tips to reduce the use of CDs and DVDs:

  • Switch to other forms of data shortage, such as portable hard-disks and thumbdrives, where more data can be stored and the storage devices can be reused again and again (as opposed to non-rewritable CDs and DVDs, which are no longer useful once the data stored becomes obsolete).
  • Download music and videos, instead of buying them on disc.

Here are some tips to reuse your CDs and DVDs:

  • If your CD or DVD is damaged, repair it. You can either send it to a CD repair shop, or Do.It.Yourself (DYI) for small scratches. Just apply a minute amount of toothpaste on the non-label side, with strokes radially out from the center.
  • If you have in hand some CDs and DVDs that you do not want anymore, consider selling them away at a garage sale, or even giving away your old CDs and DVDs to friends or charity organizations.
  • In turn, if you need to buy CDs or DVDs, buy second hand ones as much as possible, to reduce the number of new CDs and DVDs that have to be produced.
  • Use your unwanted CDs and DVDs as coaster, so you do not need to waste money purchasing actual coasters. The CD/DVD coaster can actually look quite stylish and innovative. Try it out!
  • Hang some CDs or DVDs in your garden – the reflection from the surface of the discs can help scare away birds and protect your plants and fruits.
  • Fashion your unwanted CDs or DVDs into a mobile, either as a toy in your child’s room, or for decorating your room in general.
  • Use your unwanted CDs or DVDs to create design mirror. Using adhesives, attach the CDs or DVDs onto the wall, with the reflective surface facing up to serve as the mirror surface. Arrange them in the way that suits you!
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