CD Disposal: Giving New Life to Old Discs for a Sustainable Future

CDs were the go-to hardware for data storage in the recent past. These data included video games, movies, and other essential files. 

However, we have moved from using CDs to other forms of storage like flash drives and online cloud servers, resulting in lots of unwanted CDs. 

This article will teach you how to dispose of CDs safely. Buckle up, and let’s move!

Why Should You Safely Dispose Of CDs?

If you have CDs to dispose of, one of the most accessible options to cross your mind may be tossing them in the trash. While it is a way of getting rid of these “antique” items, it is not safe; hence, not recommendable.

The reason is not far-fetched, as CDs are plastics and are not biodegradable. They contain polycarbonate components that will remain on the ground at landfills if tossed in the trash, then become dangerous and eminently eternal microplastics. Eternal in the sense that they could take about 1 million years to decompose.

To the worst part, when CDs remain on the ground in landfills, they release bisphenol A (BPA), a hazardous chemical that could cause reproductive, immunity, and neurological problems.

Burning CDs in incinerators is also an idea you may want to consider, but it is not safe either because you will be directly releasing BPA into the environment. Now that you know why you should dispose of CDs properly let’s see the safe methods you can employ.

How To Safely Dispose Of CDs

Knowing how you should not dispose of your CDs is good, but it is best to learn the safe ways to go about it. The following methods of disposal are safe and recommendable.

Sell Or Trade It

CDs in a box

It is a great idea to consider selling your CDs if you no longer need them and they are still in good condition. You may find someone who values and is willing to pay for them, or you can also trade them for other valuable CDs. 

You can sell your old CDs at various thrift stores that take second-hand items, including CDs, to exchange for cash across the United States, or consider online platforms like Amazon Trade-In or Decluttr

However, you can trade the CDs with friends with video games or music CDs if you do not prefer or cannot sell them. Selling or trading your old CDs help you get rid of them while you get money or other valuables in exchange.

Donate Your CDs

Another safe way to dispose of CDs is to donate them to charities or other people that need them. In this case, both sides win; because you successfully get rid of unwanted CDs, and the charities will use them for good, though you may not get anything in exchange. 

You do not need to carry large amounts of CDs to these charities. You can donate a part of your collection before giving out the rest when you feel more comfortable.

If this method seems cool, you may start with your next-door neighbor, a colleague at work, charity homes close to you, or some online platforms that take such donations.

One of the platforms you can consider is Salvation Army, and you can also search for more platforms online if necessary.

Shred Your CDs

 shredding machine

Shredding old CDs is another way to dispose of them safely, but it requires some caution.

For instance, you cannot shred CDs containing valuable content; you lose the content with no hope of retrieving it. Therefore, you should back up the content of such CDs before you shred them.

Also, the shredding process may be time-consuming for bulk CDs, and the process may be messy, leaving you with some cleaning work. You should also follow safety procedures to avoid accidents. 

Alternatively, you can get a shredding machine to do the job for you with little or no stress.

Recycle Your CDs

Recycling is one of the best ways to dispose of your CDs safely; It makes it possible to create new things from the scraps. 

The only setback you may face in recycling CDs is that many recycling centers may reject them because their incinerators may be able to handle only plastics like shopping bags and food containers.

However, it is not impossible, and you can check Earth911’s database for a recycling center that may take it near you. You can also check Back Thru The Future, a recycling company that offers to recycle CDs for free.

Mail-in Programs

A Mail-in program is an excellent option for disposing of old CDs; It is also a better alternative if you have problems finding a recycling center that takes CDs.

You can mail your old CDs to companies like the CD Recycling Center of America or GreenDisk, where professionals will safely recycle them to make new products. This can also be an opportunity to dispose of other wastes like hard drives, floppy discs, and VHS tapes.

Store Your CDs In The Basement

Since CDs do not decompose or harm people when you store them safely, you could consider keeping them in your basement as collections. You can pack them in cartons and group them, which may be a sight for future generations.

Get Creative With Your CDs

You can’t just have CDs lying around; you can turn them into art pieces for kids and adults. You can do several DIY projects with CDs like fridge decor, bird baths, candle holders, ice scrapes, etc. 

You can visit Pinterest for more project ideas, and you will find guides that will teach you how to make them online.

Making Your CDs Unreadable Before Disposing Of Them

If your CDs contain confidential content that you would not want to end up in the wrong hands, you should consider making them unreadable before you dispose of them. Let’s see two ways to do this:

Cut The CD In Half

One of the best ways to make your CD unreadable is to cut it in half. It does not necessarily need to be divided into two equal parts, but you should cut from one edge to another through the center.

Although CDs are soft, do not break them with your hands; cut them with a pair of scissors instead, and you should wear gloves to avoid getting harmed by the CD.

Scratch The Data Surface Of The CD

 scratched CD
Source/ @Sam Awada

Another way to make your CD unreadable before disposal is to scratch the data surface until the metallic is removed.

Here are some ways to scratch the data surface of a CD:

  • Scratch the CD’s surface with rough sandpaper.
  • Rub the CD against the floor with your foot.
  • Scratch the CD’s surface with an abrasive.
  • Scratch the CD’s surface with an emery board.
  • Put deep scratches on the CD using a disc eraser.
  • Use sharp objects like knives or scissors on the CD’s surface.

When scratching a CD, ensure you target the area close to the center, and this area contains the volume descriptor, which contains vital information about the CD. Also, ensure you scratch CDs outdoors to avoid inhaling dyes and foil dust.


This article has recommended some of the best ways to dispose of CDs safely. It is best to consider each method carefully to know which is most convenient for you.

Don’t forget to make your CDs unreadable before disposal to ensure their contents do not fall into the wrong hands

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