How to Recycle CDs and Tapes

As you transition your music library to MP3 or other digital formats, you may find yourself with CDs and tapes to recycle. Unfortunately, the recycling market for these products is pretty limited.

These media are made of plastic, but not the same kind of plastic as bottles and food containers. In fact, they are a mixture of different plastic resins. CD cases are polystyrene (#6 plastic), while the discs themselves are polycarbonate (#7 plastic). The casing of tapes is polypropylene (#5 plastic), and the tape itself is polyethylene terephthalate (#1 plastic).

Because of the limited recycling market for plastic in these forms, there aren’t many options for recycling. But instead of throwing them away, consider the following reuse ideas:

  1. Donate your old CD, DVDs and tapes to a secondhand store or music reseller for reuse. Even if the items are scratched, it’s likely they can be repaired and resold. This obviously won’t be an option if you’re getting rid of blank or burned CDs and VHS tapes.
  2. Use them for a DIY art project.
  3. Mail your media to a company like the CD Recycling Center of America or GreenDisk. Make sure to remove any paper sleeves, as these can be recycled with other paper. CD jackets are office paper, and VHS tape sleeves are paperboard.
  4. Find a drop-off location for CDs and tapes near you using the Recycling Locator.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials


Frequent CD/Tape Recycling Questions


Additional Reading