Recycling CD’s and Jewel Cases…

What can you do with stacks of unwanted burned CD’s, DVD’s and the inevitable pile of jewel cases that go with them?

2017 UPDATE: We are informed that unfortunately London Recycling no longer caters for CD /DVD recycling and also that Polymer Recycling Ltd. no longer exists. Green Ant Plastic Recycling offers a granulating service for CDs and DVDs

Commercially produced music, film and games discs can be sold to websites like Music Magpie, swapped on sites like Swapshop or taken to your local charity shop, but not discs that have been burned. Having recently had a good old sort out, I managed to generate a 10kg stack of burned CD’s and jewel cases. But what to do with them? They take 100′s of years to decompose in landfill.

CD’s and DVD’s are made from almost pure Polycarbonate. Jewel cases are injection moulded from Polystyrene. Both of these materials can be recycled for use in other applications. The Environmental Protection Agency has produced a poster about the lifecycle of a DVD or CD which is interesting.

Unfortunately doorstep recycling generally won’t accept compact discs and jewel cases, so the challenge is in finding a recycling plant that will accept them and then in physically getting them there.

There are a number of companies across the UK that will take CD’s and jewel cases for recycling. I ended up sending mine to London Recycling (owned by Viridor, tel. 020 7511 8000).

Wirral based company, Polymer Recycling Ltd‘s website has a great explanation of their recycling process for compact discs:
1. Items are separated into compact discs, jewel cases and paper packaging/inserts,
2. Printed literature is baled and pulped for use in other paper products,
3. Jewel cases are granulated and turned into pellets (using an extrusion process during which contaminants are removed) for use in other applications,
4. PRL have a patented process for the chemical free removal of paint, aluminium and data on the discs which is then re-used as insulation material,
5. The compact discs are granulated, blended and compounded into high quality, injection moulding grade Polycarbonate for use in other applications.

Unfortunately, unless you have over half a tonne, you will need to deliver your old CD’s and jewel cases to these processing plants yourself. I chose to fork out £15 to post them to London Recycling, which is a lot and I imagine would put most people off completely. So come on, councils, please add CD’s and jewel cases to your home collection recycling service.