Can You Throw Away Old CDs

Can You Throw Away Old CDs? (Here’s How You Should Get Rid of Them!)

When the Compact Disc first came into the equation, they were revolutionary and were a great storage option. However, the world has moved into a completely digital age. All the media that CDs were used for is now downloadable in seconds. Modern laptops and computers don’t even feature CD-Roms or DVD-Roms.

5 Reasons To Recycle
5 Reasons To Recycle

You should never throw away old CDs. If they end up in the landfill,  it’s estimated that they could last for up to 1 million years. If they end up in an incinerator, they can release hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and dioxins into the atmosphere.

One disadvantage of this innovation is that it led to many CDs being just put away in storage. People are becoming increasingly more environmentally conscious and are more considerate with how they dispose of their old stuff.

When it comes to CDs, there are several methods you can use to get rid of them. However, you shouldn’t just throw them away.

Why can’t you throw away old CDs?

When you buy a CD, it often comes with more components than just a disc. CDs include the disc itself, a case, and paper notes that are a part of the case.  Only a few of the components are recyclable.

Throwing away the whole case, including the CD, means that most of it goes straight into the landfill. Researchers’ estimates indicate that it can take around one million years for the CD to decompose in a landfill.

They take so long to decompose because CDs are made from polycarbonate plastic. These plastics fall under the no.7 category and can be significantly more challenging to recycle.

Often CDs also feature traces of gold and aluminum. Both are easily recyclable materials.

In the worst-case scenario, if CDs are burned, they release toxic chemicals in the air. These harmful chemicals include hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, and dioxins. Another dangerous component of Polycarbonate plastic contains BPA, and they can cause issues ranging from reproductive problems, early puberty, blood pressure, and heart issues.

Alternative Disposal Options

Instead of throwing them in the trash, there are multiple disposal options available to help eliminate CDs in a more environmentally conscious manner. Here are all the different options available.

Community Pick-Up and Drop-Off Centers

Most communities offer regular recycling drop-off centers. More often than not, these centers don’t accept plastic CDs.

However, there’s no harm in checking community sources to see if they recycle compact discs. Even if you can’t dispose of the disc, the CD case and notes are widely accepted at all recycling centers.

Additionally, suppose there isn’t a place that handles compact disc recycling. In that case, you can check in nearby areas to see any sites close to you. There are several online tools and databases that allow you to find these centers without any significant hassle.

Throwing Away Old CDs

Donate CDs

Instead of throwing them away, there are a lot of organizations and children’s hospitals that are going to be happy to take those CDs off your hands. These aren’t the only donation options available to CD owners.

The troops, goodwill organizations, and the salvation army will take the CDs off your hands. After taking the CDs, they’ll also provide you with a tax receipt.

The CDs or DVDs at home that you no longer use need not be disposed of in landfills. As long as they’re being used, not only will they serve a purpose but, they’ll reduce the overall demand for CDs.

Resell Them

Speaking of reducing the overall demand for CDs, reselling your collection will reduce the need for newer CDs. The lower the demand for CDs, the fewer CDs are being manufactured, which is better for the environment. Several music resellers or secondhand stores will be happy to offer you a price for your CDs.

You won’t be able to get rid of blank or burned CDs using this technique but, any software, music CDs, or DVDs are all game.

Mail-in Options

While the number of recycling centers and green organizations is increasing worldwide, they aren’t accessible to everyone. However, organizations like GreenDisk help ensure that people without access to recycling centers can mail in their old CDs.

Specialized CD recycling involves cleaning, grinding, blending, and then compounding CDs into reusable plastic. The plastic is then reused for auto parts, equipment, and street lights.

Specific organizations won’t charge anything for the donation, and you’ll have to pay for the postage fee. On the other hand, there are other organizations that’ll do the job for you for a minimal cost.

DIY Options

Instead of throwing the CDs away, you can get creative and find a new purpose for them instead of throwing them all out. If you have kids, they can use the CDs for some DIY craft projects.

All they’re going to need is a little glue and all the equipment in your craft box. With a little bit of repurposing, CDs can serve multiple different functions.

Paint them up, and they’ll work as fun tree ornaments. They can also be handy as drink coasters, and in wintery conditions, they’ll function as an ice-scraper. Another brilliant option is supplementing frames and mirrors by cutting the disc into pieces.

There are endless options, and the only limitation is your creativity. Instead of letting the discs rot away or throwing them in a landfill, repurposing them is a useful avenue.

Important things to consider before throwing away CDs

CDs are available in CD-R and CD-RW format. CD-RW stands for rewritable discs, and people often used them to store all kinds of information. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that you dispose of the CDs in a way that ensures that no one can get access to the information.

When you send the discs for recycling, anyone can pick up the CD, pop it into the drive, and access the information. That’s why it’s essential to take all the necessary precautions.

There are several steps users can take to recycle their CDs without risking a breach of information. The first option is to break the disc in half. Potential recyclers can also scratch the CD’s optical surface to make it impossible for the disc to be read.


When it comes to throwing away CDs, it’s irresponsible to dispose of them and let them find their way to a landfill. Instead, properly recycling, reselling, donating, or repurposing the CDs is a much more environmentally sustainable solution.