How to Recycle CDs & Tapes

Upgrading your music and video collection to MP3 or other digital formats may make it easier to enjoy your favorite songs and movies, but you will find yourself with CDs, DVDs, and tapes to recycle. Unfortunately, the recycling market for these products is limited and the vast majority of curbside programs and transfer stations will not accept them.

These media are made of  a mixture of different plastic resins. CD cases are polystyrene (#6 plastic), while the discs themselves are polycarbonate, or #7 plastic, which is a catch-all resin number that covers many types of plastic. The casing of tapes is polypropylene (#5 plastic), and audio and video tape is made from 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 or sell your old CD, DVDs and tapes to a secondhand store or music reseller for reuse. For instance, Half Price Books will buy a wide range of used media in good condition. 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. Other online options include,,,,, and
  2. Use them for a DIY art project.
  3. If you just want to recycle your media to GreenDisk. Make sure to remove any paper sleeves, as these can be recycled with other paper. CD and DVD jackets are office paper, and VHS tape sleeves are paperboard.

Find a drop-off location for CDs and tapes near you by adding your ZIP Code this Earth911 Recycling Search.

Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials

Frequent CD/Tape Recycling Questions

Can I recycle DVDs, CDs and tapes in my curbside recycling program?

It’s highly unlikely that your curbside recycling program accepts electronic media of any kind, even though they are plastic. Even if your program says it accepts “Plastics #1-7,” CDs, DVDs and tapes won’t be accepted in a curbside bin.

How do I repair a scratched CD/DVD?

You can use a bunch of materials from around the house to repair scratches, ranging from toothpaste to a banana peel. There are also scratch filler kits available to purchase.

Why do I have to pay to recycle my CDs, DVDs and tapes via mail-in programs?

There are costs with recycling any material, and with many materials, the cost is offset by the value obtained from the recycled product. With CDs and tapes, this is not the case. If you want to responsibly dispose of these products, you’ll likely have to pay for at least the shipping costs.

Is throwing away my CDs and tapes against the law?

As of 2024, no states have landfill bans on CDs, DVDs, tapes, or the cases they come in.

Where can I donate or sell old CDs and tapes?

There will always be a secondary market for audio and video products. Your town likely has a local music store that buys music, or thrift shops that will accept them for donation. You also have online options like eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, Goodwill, or your local BuyNothing group. 

Additional Reading

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 5, 2016, and updated in February 2024.