Recycling Challenge: CDs

Recycling your old compact discs
by Samantha Wittchen

The Challenge: The day when your tower of compact discs goes the way of the 8-track is rapidly approaching. With the increasing ubiquity of digital music, we are certainly in for a major influx of CD-related trash to our landfills. The actual discs are comprised of three main parts: polycarbonate plastic (with a little bit of lacquer for protection), metals (mainly aluminum, with trace amounts of gold, silver and nickel) and dyes. The cases are usually made from No. 6 polystyrene. The plastics and metals can be recycled for use in the building and automotive industries, but, when trashed and left to degrade, they release Bisphenol A, an endocrine disrupter that may have negative health effects.

The Solution: The first option is reuse: See if you can donate your CDs or trade them in at a local CD store. If the store already happens to have a dozen copies of Melissa Etheridge’s Yes I Am, there might be an artist out there waiting to snatch up those discs for a project. Craigslist.org and Phillyfreecycle.org are good places to post your unwanted stash.
If you’re willing to drive out to Pottstown, Recycling Services, Inc. (365 Elm St., Pottstown, 610-323-8545) will take them off your hands. Maximize your trip by pooling some friends’ CDs before heading out there. If that’s not a possibility, head to your local post office—the CD Recycling Center of America (cdrecyclingcenter.org) will accept your CDs through the mail at no charge (although they do ask for a small contribution to help defray their costs).

The Eco-Aware Consumer: If you’ve switched to digital music, you’re already a more eco-conscious consumer, since your music is now stored in bits and bytes instead of metal and plastic. Your new charge is maximizing the life of your iPod before it needs to be recycled, but that’s a conversation for another day.