How can I reuse or recycle old compact discs (cds)?

Compact DiscsA few years ago, when everyone and their auntie was trying their luck during the ISP goldrush, we couldn’t open the front door for the amount of AOL cds coming through the letter box each morning.

Thankfully, it’s all slackened off a bit now but we still have stacks of old CDs to get rid of: data ones that have burnt wrong, ones that have been scratched and, on the rare occasion we still get them, those damn AOL-et-al cds.

The myriad of coasters we already own (3 different sets, 4 in each set) far exceeds the amount of coasters we use on a day-to-day basis (zero), so employing CDs to do the job – which is often the suggestion – isn’t really going to be that useful to us.

So any other ideas? What other uses are there for them?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: Only burn new discs when you really need it to – use reusable USB keys or internet storage where possible instead.
  • Reuse: Use them as modern day scarecrows to deter birds from your veg plot or fruit trees. Or you can use them in crafts – they can be made into drop spindles for spinning wool or as a base for gift bags (see below).
  • Recycle: While not common, recycling facilities do exist – some details are below.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by bruno-free, c/o sxc.hu)

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124 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old compact discs (cds)?”


  1. neil says:

    I use the shiny side or the cd to stand my hot coffee mug on. It stops you getting coffee and heat stains on your computer desk or coffee table

  2. Chris says:

    New age shurikin, albeit with slightly less lethal consequences…

    Ok, so basically small frisbies.

  3. louisa's mum says:

    Dangle them on a piece of string over newly planted seedlings to scare off birds – they look prettier than scarecrows when they glint in the sunshine too.

  4. dotCompost says:

    “they glint in the sunshine too”

    Yeah, it’s just like being at the disco..!!

  5. bev says:

    It’s a shame they aren’t copper – because then you could use them like a halo around little seedlings to stop slugs approaching them.

    You could use a couple of them vertically in the soil to make thin barriers between plants or sections of your veg plot instead.

  6. Judith Rhodes says:

    You can, it seems, take old CDs to council waste sites – or at least, you can in Leeds. There is also a firm which re-cycles them, it’s in Lancashire somewhere I think, I can look out the name & address if you like.

  7. anykey says:

    101 Uses for AOL Disks

    # Mini cutting board (great for the office or the car, use metal door for knife).
    # Attach it to a ruler and presto! – you’ve got a fly swatter.
    # Construct a life size replica of Stonehenge.
    # At a restaurant, shove one under a wobbling table leg.
    # Money clip (use metal door and discard the plastic case…the “rich nerd” look is IN this year).
    # Eye patch (for one-eyed software pirates).
    # Christmas ornaments (the more the merrier).
    # Give them to young children to use as building blocks.
    # Glue them to the bottom of the space shuttle and use them as re-entry burn tiles.
    # Dentures (melt & form them into new teeth for grandma).
    # Room dividers for hamsters.
    # Drink coasters.
    # Use multiple disks to create an ideal door stopper.
    # Ice scraper.
    # Bathroom tile.
    # Bookmark.
    # Mini frisbee.
    # Air hockey puck.
    # Dog chew toy.
    # Dart board.
    # Pooper scooper.
    # Grill scraper.
    # Use them for karate board-breaking demonstrations (save a tree).
    # Wrist slicer – after receiving first AOL bill (use metal door).
    # Conversation piece for coffee table.
    # Destroy them – smash, burn, or run over to relieve stress.
    # Light switch cover.
    # Chinese throwing stars (tape 2 together).
    # Clay pigeons for target practice.
    # Greeting card (bind two together at one end).
    # Halloween treat (give them away all night long).
    # Bullet proof vest (arrange together in triple thickness).
    # Firewood.
    # Bird house.
    # Paper weights.
    # Pen holders (make a box without a top).
    # Post it-notes holder.
    # Refrigerator magnet (glue a magnet to the back).
    # A very sturdy base for putting the motorcycle sidestand on when parking on soft surfaces.
    # Keep ‘em in the trunk for extra traction in the snow.
    # Solar Eclipse Glasses (open door and look through disk at the sun/moon –actually works).
    # Placing one in each back pocket helps children who get paddled by the coach. This spreads the force to a wider area.
    # Make an AOL disk & pasta casserole.
    # Incense burners (put stick in hole of disk hub and light the incense.
    # Bug Shield (glue a bunch to the front of your car’s hood).
    # Put them on car windshields at the mall (along with this list).
    # Melt the plastic of the disks into a giant sculpture.
    # Hand them out as party favors.
    # Hidden/spare key holder (crack open 1 side, insert key and then place near door. Completely safe…who would want an AOL disk?)
    # Vertical blinds.
    # Be an AOL diskette surgeon and dissect a diskette.
    # Bench press weights (I can press 120).
    # Grind ‘em up and refertilize the front lawn.
    # The new “Domino’s stuffed-crust pizza” filling.
    # Tell the kids to leave warm milk & AOL disks for Santa.
    # Brake shoes.
    # House insulation.
    # Recycle them for the scrap metal.
    # Kitchen tile for Bill Gates’ new mansion in Seatle (walk all over the competition)
    # Hockey Puck.
    # Add water and special plant life to make a Chia-Disk.
    # Noise maker for your bike spokes (why damage your valuable baseball cards).
    # Put one on a leash and drag it along as you walk…makes the perfect pet.
    # Poker chips.
    # Baseball practice (throw them up in the air and hit them with the bat).
    # Keychain (Put a key ring through one of the writeprotect holes and you’ve got a snappy executive bathroom keychain for the office).
    # Mail to 10 friends-start an AOL chain-letter (add a disk with each link).
    # Earmuffs (glue some fur on one side, then attach a U-shaped piece of bent coathanger to both disks).
    # Grind them up to make fake snow.
    # Earrings (put loop into write-protect hole).
    # Dental floss (use actual disk).
    # Use them for zipper pulls (instead of ski lift tickets).
    # When your collection of disks reaches 52, use them for a deck of cards.
    # Use them to fill potholes.
    # Hood ornament.
    # Snow blower replacement blades.
    # Put them in your shirt pocket to make you look smart.
    # Make two stacks of 10 and use them as heels for platform shoes.
    # Rubik’s cube case (make into box).
    # Shipping material (keeps your photos from being bent in the mail).
    # Protect your table from burns caused by hot pots and pans.
    # Snack trays (great for holding hors d’oeuvres at parties).
    # Give them as stocking stuffers to all those people who piss you off.
    # Fly paper (use actual disk and put string through middle, hang 2″ apart and apply honey to disks).
    # Pocket protector
    # They make a *dandy* addition to a #$*+&% neighbor’s back yard. Better yet, get them to actually install it on their computer.
    # Use them as elbow and knee pads.
    # Wax scraper for snowboards.
    # Use them to decorate your aquarium and create Computer City underwater.
    # Tape a few together and use them as a mouse pad.
    # Collect a large mass and detonate a supernova.
    # A wind clacker (similar to a wind chime).
    # Soap dish (remove metal to prevent rusting).
    # Row markers for your vegetable garden. (carrots, beans, peas….)
    # Makes the perfect dance floor for your ant colony.
    # Bread roller (use actual disks and put rod through center-use about 100).
    # Hot glue gun resting/protecting pad.
    # Baby mobile.
    # Fence (may need a few thousand).
    # Toe tags for mortuaries. Great for identifying dead computer nerds.
    # Wonderbra inserts for that Madonna-techno look.

  8. Silver Birch says:

    A good way to keep them out of landfill is to send them to a company that recycles them (and has recently won an Environmental Business of the Year award) although you do have to pay postage. They recycle both the jewel case and the disc itself. The case is made into a high quality polystyrene pellet that can be used in making new packaging, insulation foam or artificial wood, and the disc is made into a polycarbonate that has a number of uses, including as part of alarm boxes and motorway traffic lenses.
    The company is Polymer Reprocessors Ltd, Peninsula Business Park, Reeds Lane, Moreton, Wirral, Cheshire CH46 1DW. I’m not connected with them, but I have just discovered them and am about to send all my old CDs off to them!

    • Judy says:

      Use them under taper candles to catch the drips instead of those very expensive glass ones.

    • Anonymous says:

      SILVER BIRCH RE AUG 06 2006
      Many thanks for leaving the address of Polymer Reprocesser Ltd.
      I will be sending my old talking magazines and papers. that i
      receive on C.D. Now i know where i can send them to.
      many thanks. OAk LEAF

  9. Just put them on an old CD spindle from the CD spindle recycling article.

  10. Keep them and stick them on your wall in your bedroom with the shiny side up. They glint in the sunlite and its actually quite nice…

  11. Answerer says:

    Make a mosiac out of them.

  12. Amy says:

    If you’re having a party, you can use them as invitations. Write down locations, names, phone numbers, etc. on the shiny part with a permanent marker (might need a few layers of the color)

  13. Heather says:

    use some sick tack, and arrange them on the wall shiny side out…makes an awesome mirror.

  14. Bingo says:

    Stick them on the sides of a cardboard box to use as wheels and let the kids play in their new toy car!

    My kids prefer a box to the real toys anyway!

  15. Lesley says:

    They also make a good hand spindle, together with a knitting needle or a length of dowling.
    Then all you need is some fleece to go with it.

  16. miguel says:

    All that sounds wonderful about hanging them in trees…if you are white trash. in fact they seem to be ahead of the curve, old car on the lawn, fridge in the driveway, and cds hanging from the trees. Come on people recycle them for real. send them to a recycling facility and let the professionals handle it.

    • Anthony Brown says:

      You wrote
      All that sounds wonderful about hanging them in trees…if you are white trash. in fact they seem to be ahead of the curve, old car on the lawn, fridge in the driveway, and cds hanging from the trees. Come on people recycle them for real. send them to a recycling facility and let the professionals handle it.

      miguel

      your forgetting your three r’s
      Reduce reuse recycle.

      Recycling uses energy, reuse is always better.

      Anthony

      • Casey Jones says:

        However, it is debatable whether hanging them in trees actually constitutes a practical ‘use’… I suppose if you were about to go to the store and buy funny plastic things made overseas to put in all your trees and bushes, but got the idea to use CDs instead… I guess that would be better.

        But really, I think the best application of the term “re-use” is to find something which you or someone else already has a need for, or a product which is already being manufactured, and find a way to make that out of what would otherwise be garbage. Inventing uses for decoration is cute, and there’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t strike me as environmentally beneficial unless you’re actually replacing the role of a new product.

        It is a good point though, that recycling does consume energy. It’s also unfortunate that most plastics will probably be recycled into more useless crap… but not always.

    • ashley says:

      wow wonder where you are from! I’m from the south and you need atleast 5 cars that DONT run, a burned down vessel of some kind, 25 lawn ornaments, and a garden to be trashy! dont be so judgemental ;)

  17. Dean says:

    you could try this crowd in Australia, Ecodisc, http://discstation.blogspot.com/

    looks like they have just got a CD recycling program up and running

  18. Anonymous says:

    some other options would be nice, maybe more realistic and acheivable, not just useing them for toys and decorations…..

  19. mormonsim says:

    you CAN make a disco ball out of them. I saw it @tree hugger. YOu have to heat them and then cu out little squares and then glue those to a styrofoam ball.

  20. Vicky says:

    Please may I have them? If so You can send them to 304 North Allumbaugh Apt336 Boise ID 83704. Thanks

  21. Giselle says:

    for CDs, DVDs, Electronic storage devices, Tapes all can be recycling.

    for more information visit: http://twm.manga-fu.com/conf-shredding.html

  22. Bad Monkey says:

    Buy a clock kit – cheap enough from most major craft shops and turn ur old cd`s into unusual gifts for friends and family

  23. Linda says:

    CD’s, DVD’s, make an imitation candle.
    Cover one side of disc with silver paper/card make a flame of orange card, stick both sides in same place. Take either an empty toilet roll or kitchen roll, cover in plain paper in colours that candles come in. (at girl guides we use ivory) stick to roll. Cut a base a little bigger stick to end of tube and decorate with plastic/silk foliage. make 2 cuts in top of candle to slot cd/dvd into. End result looks like an imitation candle. We have been making these for years, they are very popular with children.

  24. Ruti says:

    They could be used as a strong base when making a round based cloth make-up bag or a set of hanging mini cloth storage shelves.
    Also, schools could use them in displays as nice backing for individual photos or other items.

  25. DAVID says:

    Don’t use CDs as firewood as they will give Phosgene a poiseness gas which will kill you.

  26. John Pring says:

    I’ve set up the MEDIA RECYCLING PROJECT in Oxfordshire because I’ve got 100’s of CDs & DVDs from PC Mags & Failed recordings and I don’t want to put them into the Landfill so if you live in or around Oxfordshire… Watch this space for more info or drop me an e-mail!

    John Pring
    Coordinator
    Media Recycling Project

    j.pring1@homecall.co.uk

  27. Bev D says:

    I designed an interactive art gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida. We ordered the center pegs used in some CD cases, and put them on a grid of 8″ spaces, about 120 of them. Kids bring CDs onto which they’ve made their own personal art statement, and these are positioned on the wall grid. They look fantastic, and when a whole class of kids come in, their teacher brings one that each child has made. The gallery puts them up, and kids get to see their own art up in a real museum!

  28. Shorty says:

    Use the computer to wipe the data off it, and now you can save anything you want to it =D Cheap sparkly entertainment, pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds while screaming “I DON’T WANT 1099 HOURS!” Dice ‘em up for a disco ball.

  29. Ruti says:

    There are shredders that can cut up CDs now, so these might be a lot easier and safer to use if doing a mosaic.

    Microwave is probably only for if you like poisonous fumes, wrecking your microwave and risking a house fire.

  30. Lizzy says:

    Stick two together , fit a bit of round – stick -bit -of -wood type thing in it to make a drop spindle to twist your own yarn out of sheep fleece (about a million times cheaper than buying wool) I went to a spinning and weaving day to day and did this….ah…if only I had the time to do stuff like this all the time…

  31. bob platten says:

    Collect about 50, thread them on a miniature fluo’ tube. when you light the tube, you have got a real natty desklamp as the light shines through the edges.

  32. Kieran says:

    I am a music teacher and I put 5 lines of duct tape on the floor to represent the musical staff. I get the kids to either throw or place the old CD on the appropriate note depending on the music game that we’re playing. It’s really fun, and the kids love it.

    kgreeson@hudsoncollege.ca

  33. Lynn says:

    A good way to use up old disks is to buy some plastic clock mechanisms, create a clock face in Photoshop, glue clock face to one side of CD and then attach clock mechanism. Hey presto, a fun clock for under £2.00.

  34. John Pring says:

    Dear Recyclers

    Due to ill health and increased disability, it is with regret, I have to inform you the Media Recycling Project is unable to continue. It is not a decision I have taken lightly!

    I have tried to find someone to take on the running of the project without success! I am also trying to find a company who will take the media items for free!

    I would like to thank you all personally for your interest in the project.

    Regards

    John Pring

  35. Beckie says:

    There’s a great website: http://www.recyclingcds.com
    They make clocks out of old CDs and DVDs and they’ll also take your unwanted discs off your hands (I assume you have to pay postage).

    You could even have a go at making a clock yourself as the artwork already printed on the discs is often great so no need to waste paper/labels and ink :)

    They can make nice wall art too, have seen this in offices before.

  36. Lizzy says:

    The frisbee thing is really good. Has given me what is probably far too much fun from a scratched CD over the past few days.

  37. Michelle says:

    We covered the labelled side with construction paper then let kids draw on them to create suncatchers for their moms. We did this for medical brigades in Honduras. They also doubled for mirrors.

    I have a smallone in my camping/diving gear as it makes a great signalling device on the water..cheap reflector

  38. Sandy says:

    I use them to make sun catchers. You will need 10 total. Glue 2 Cd’s together, label to label. String them on fish line, each Cd should slightly over lap the Cd below it, make sure to do an overhand tie with the line between each Cd. Five Cd’s going down the line seems to work the best. Add a barrel swivel and another piece of line to other end of swivel. It’s ready to hang.
    You could leave a little room between each Cd but they don’t work as good. Be careful where you hang these, the glare can travel a long ways. Please be sure they do not shine in anyone’s house or blind drivers as they drive by.
    I’ve also used them on my fence. I have a lattice fence that encloses my front yard. In between each slate (so all holes are covered) I slip a Cd. Awesome!

  39. Lenn says:

    Believe it or not, I actually used an old cd as a putty knife when repairing a windowsill. Worked great.

  40. gzeena says:

    The Compact Disc Recycling Center of America
    68H Stiles Road
    Salem, NH 03079

    http://cdrecyclingcenter.org/pages/suggested_programs

    zero-landfill
    gzeena

  41. Paul Eden says:

    Seeing as this is a UK site, for people here use the following, as previously posed by Silver Birch:

    Polymer Reprocessors Ltd,
    Peninsula Business Park,
    Reeds Lane,
    Moreton,
    Wirral,
    Cheshire CH46 1DW

    You pay the postage to send them, they do the rest. I thnk the sugestions for sending to the USA and Austaralia may be contrary to the whole eco thing…

  42. Fun Projects says:

    Make a HOVER CRAFT:

    In the US you can use the pull up top from a bottle of liquid dish soap. Size matters here. Don’t use one with a huge hole. Glue the base of the soap lid over the center hole in the cd. Next place a balloon over the pull top and make sure the pull top is in the up or open position so that air can pass through while blowing up the balloon. Put your lips up to the hole at the bottom of the disk and inflate the balloon. Before removing your lips grab the tiny neck area of the balloon and press the pull up lid down into the closed position. Now the balloon is filled and ready to use. Finally, place the hover disc on a level surface, pull open the top and the air will exit the balloon through the pull up top, through the cd and cause the cd to float around like a hover craft.

    They are easy and fun to make, and both kids and adults alike have fun with them.

    Hint: use a strong glue like crazy glue or super glue. Use a pull up lid with a smaller hole. Experiment with different size balloons. You may need to wrap a rubber band around the neck of the balloon to keep it tight on the pull up lid. Install the rubber band easily while the balloon is deflated. This will help keep the air in as long as possible.

  43. Anna says:

    http://rejewellery.blogspot.com/2008/04/brosze-ryboszne.html

    From few years i’m recycling old cd’s into jewellery please take a look.

  44. Malathy Sanborn says:

    Use them as a reflective surface for SODIS, solar water disinfection.



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