Look around your place. How many CDs do you have? How many of them still spark joy? How many have been made redundant by ripping them to some digital storage format? And how many of them will you never, ever listen to ever again? Perhaps it’s time for a cull.
Sure, you could try to sell or trade them, but there’s a very limited market for used CDs, especially ones that no one seems to care about anymore. You can’t throw them out because the plastic will take hundreds of thousands of years to decompose in a landfill.
The responsible thing then would be to recycle them. But how? That’s…complicated. Just ask the City of Calgary which posted this “thanks but no thanks” directive on its website.
The New York Times wrote about a place called the CD Recycling Center of America in Salem, New Hampshire, which goes through great lengths to make sure the plastic, paper, and aluminum in CDs and DVDs can be turned into something that can be reused. They’ll take that unwanted copy of Jagged Little Pill and grind it into tiny granules of polycarbonate plastic that can be used for new plastic products in cars, building materials, and even frames for eyeglasses.
Most of that powder is shipped to China and India for repurposing. The problem is that the price these countries are willing to pay has dropped through the floor, thanks in part to a glut in ground-up CDs that no one wants anymore. Still, there are a number of companies that are trying to do the right thing by disposing of old CDs like GreenDisk.
The NYT article also points out something I never considered: “‘Once a CD is in a trash dump, it can be published to the public domain, and people can take that, sell it and remarket it,'” says David Beschen of GreenDisk. To avoid that, millions upon millions of CDs were being burned and incinerated, which is not a great thing for the environment.
The whole NYT article is worth reading. Go here.