DVDs: yet another relic from a bygone age of entertainment. Oh sure, many people still use them to throw something on for the kids or if the internet happens to be down, but by and large, most people choose to get their home entertainment through streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Those people might find themselves wondering how to dispose of their DVDs, CDs, and cases — or, even better, how to recycle them.
How to recycle DVDs:
According to the Albany County Waste and Recycling program, DVDs and CDs are made of a mix of No. 7 polycarbonate plastic and aluminum. Though both of these materials are highly valuable and recyclable, because discs are technically mixed-material, they are not generally accepted in curbside recycling bins. CDs or DVDs improperly placed in recycling bins and end up on the conveyor belt might even get caught or shattered while going through the sorting process.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Some recycling programs across the U.S. do consider DVDs and CDs as e-waste, and they can be dropped off at special recycling events or recycling centers, but not placed into a curbside recycling bin. Many towns have certain days and specific locations set aside for e-waste recycling drop-offs. Check your local municipality or sanitation department's website to see if they accept these items curbside.
There are also e-waste recycling programs all across the country that accept DVDs and CDs for recycling, either through mail-in programs or at certain drop-off locations. For instance, some electronics stores like Best Buy have e-waste recycling programs — just be sure to contact the store first to double check that your local Best Buy accepts discs.
These mail-in programs might make you pay for shipping in some cases, but if preventing your old CDs and DVDs from ending up in a dump is important to you, it may be worth the one-time fee.
How to recycle DVD cases or CD jewel cases:
According to CDRom2Go, jewel cases, sans CDs or DVDs, can be recycled through many municipal programs as any other plastics would. Simply contact your local recycling department or the CD Recycling Center of America for more information on what types of cases are recyclable through plastic recycling.
Additionally, some cities and towns accept cases curbside, so check your municipality's website for more information. For example, New York City residents can place DVD or CD cases (minus the paper) in their curbside bins, but the discs should not be placed in recycling bins.
Why should you recycle DVDs?
Every year, numerous DVDs and CDs end up in landfills, where they will remain until their polycarbonate components have been ground down into dangerous and eminently eternal microplastics. According to the Albany County Waste and Recycling program, old DVDs can also release the toxic compound bisphenol A (BPA).
Where do I sell old CDs and DVDs?
If you don’t want to go through the hoops of recycling your old CDs and DVDs, you could always just sell them or donate them in bulk. Secondhand stores may accept them as donations, and record stores might be interested in your old DVDs and CDs, as well.
Depending on the rarity and condition of those items, you might even make a few bucks off them. There are plenty of collectors on eBay, Craigstlist, and Facebook marketplace who are looking for that rare copy of The Princess Bride: Special Edition that's been gathering dust beneath your entertainment center for half a decade.