Are CD Cases Recyclable? Are CDs Recyclable too?

Compact disks may well represent the last generation of a dying breed. As the necessity for physical media continues to dwindle with the introduction and expansion of digital streaming services, we are left with an ever-increasing pile of electronic waste.  Googling, “are CD cases recyclable” will bring up a load of information. However, if you are looking for a quick answer, yes, CD cases can be recycled. 

Unfortunately, there is no escaping the environmental liability of CDs – sure, the internal data can be copied and preserved onto a computer, but the plastic components remain and can often slip into waste streams if unaccounted for. 

Are cd cases recyclable? In this guide, we will discuss the recycling of CDS and their cases. 

Are CDs Recyclable?

Compact disc products can be recycled, but not as easily as simpler plastic compounds and paper materials. It’s important to understand how to recycle these products properly – but if you decide not to recycle, there are other options like donating and selling that will revitalize your CD products and keep them out of the waste cycle

This article will familiarize you with the core components of CD products, and will also provide answers to frequently asked questions about compact disc disposal. By the end of this short read, you will have a firm

understanding of how to handle your CD e-waste in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

The Compact Disk and its Case – A Component Overview 

Compact disk cases for both CDs and DVDs are made of polystyrene,

a plastic polymer that is both non-biodegradable and toxic if burned. Compact disks themselves are made up of a few different layers, each with their properties:

  • Label – The screen-printed plastic top label on a CD case is where the artwork or title of the encoded material is displayed. A CD sold blank may only display a few things like the maker’s name and the storage capacity.
  • Acrylic – Another form of plastic, the acrylic layer is meant as a defensive layer to protect the CD from oxidation.
  • Reflective Aluminum – An aluminum layer that reflects the laser back so that it can be interpreted by the CD drive.
  • Polycarbonate – A highly durable plastic that contains the encoded media data which is read by the CD drive laser.


Are CD Cases Recyclable, and if so – which parts?

CD products are composed of different materials, some of which adhere to different recycling standards and procedures than others. When preparing a set of CDs for recycling, separate the core components into their respective recycling streams to ease the process.

The easiest part of a compact disk case to recycle is the paper insert. You can pluck it out of the case, and recycle with the rest of your paper goods. More ornate CD cases often come with multiple paper inserts, so double check to be sure you’ve got them all. 

It is important to either recycle or reuse CD cases and CDs because they will not biodegrade easily. They will stay in a landfill, and contaminate the soil and air with toxins. Plus, if you donate these items, you will have a good feeling inside for doing the right thing – or you can sell them and make money! Hopefully, this beginner’s guide has answered your question “Are CD cases recyclable” and has given you some bright ideas.

Can CD Cases Be Recycled Anywhere? 

By now you know that CD cases are recyclable but not all recycling facilities will accept them. Though compact disks themselves only contain a small amount of metal, CDs and their cases are classified as electronics. Because of this, they cannot be thrown in a single-stream recycling bin and won’t be accepted in curbside recycling programs. 

Out-of-use CD products are officially recognized as electronic waste, and can only be responsibly recycled in facilities that process e-waste like printers, computers, phones, etc. 

Your community may have a local electronics recycling center that will accept CD products – some may even offer you a sum of money for the raw materials within. Electronics recycling companies are best-equipped to handle such products, especially in large quantities. 

Why Should I Recycle My Old CDs – Can’t I Just Throw Them Out With The Trash?

The question of are CD cases recyclable has been answered, but you still may not be convinced that recycling is the way you want to go. Any electronic waste can be a hazard to public health if not disposed of properly. Electronic waste is an increasingly pervasive problem today – we are currently generating about 50 million tons of e-waste per year, and that number is expected to grow by 5% annually. 

Most of our global e-waste is shipped to unregulated dumpsites in Asia

and Africa, where electronics are often melted down to their base components. The combustion process releases toxic chemicals into both local communities and larger water supplies, endangering millions. 

Unfortunately, CDs and their cases are no exception to the e-waste spectrum. Polystyrene used in CD cases contains Styrene and Benzene,

two carcinogenic materials that can leach into water supplies or the atmosphere from landfills. 

Polycarbonate in discs themselves is a BPA plastic, which has been linked with “cardiovascular disease and diabetes in humans”. Because of their small size, CD products often are overlooked in e-waste considerations.

Don’t let yourself make the same mistake! 

Can I Donate My Old CDs Instead? 

You can breathe life into your old CD cases by donating them to a new audience. For example, local libraries and schools are often in need – their old rental cases and the disks inside are often mistreated or simply overused, and will require replacement over time. 

Used discs can be donated as well. Libraries will often accept old compact disc media like albums, audiobooks, movies, or video games so long as they are functional. Additionally, educational institutions or tutoring networks may find use from instructional videos or audiobooks you no longer need. 

Charity organizations and nonprofits like Goodwill may also accept your CDs and cases. You may also consider posting an ad on a site like Craigslist or Freecycle to gauge if your local community can put them to use. 

What About Selling My Old CDs?

Selling your old physical media is always an option – though you may find that the market for compact disks has dwindled over the years. Nevertheless, your old discs may find a new home with a CD/DVD collector, or perhaps with families/individuals who don’t have access to the Internet for streaming services. 

Are Cd Cases Recyclable

While media and audio rental stores are nearly extinct, you may be able to sell an old CD to a local record store or pawnshop for a small sum. Resale websites/apps like Discogs, Craigslist, and OfferUp can provide a potential audience for used CDs as well. 

How Else Can I Put My Old CDs To Good Use?

If you cannot find a convenient way to recycle or reuse your CDs, there are inventive ways you can reuse them. Break up a cd into squares, and decorate a picture frame with the glass to create a mosaic. Be sure to sand the edges if you do end up modifying a CD because they can be very sharp. 

In short, get as creative as you can! You can take an old CD case and turn it into a futuristic notebook, or use multiple CDs to create a pencil holder for your office desk. Check out some more CD repurposing ideas published on Reader’s Digest and see if anything catches your eye. 

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