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

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

  1. Marlene Ansley says:

    I need to remind you all that burning or melting any plastic item puts out carcinogenic fumes (cancer causing) so try not to melt or burn plastic. I knew a person that burned plastic in a trash pile (I don’t like doing that anyway) but he ended up with lung cancer and died. He didn’t smoke, it
    was the fumes from all those plastic jugs melting. PLEASE, PLEASE, don’t melt plastic if you can help it. Try other ideas. Also letting your pet play with the discs might be okay, but also remember they can break and if your pet swallows a piece of the broken disc it could end up killing them.
    So recycle and reuse but be careful HOW you recycle and reuse!

    • Adrienne says:

      In the article, ‘burning’ refers to writing data onto a CD, not actually burning the CD with fire. That’s just silly! :)

      • Mary Anne Enriquez says:

        Actually I DO know of artist that do heat up old CDS in the microwave oven…to craze and crackle them. Others heat them up in other ways and cover in encaustic wax, etc. I agree that heating the plastic up needs some caution, but never underestimate an artist….burning a CD with a blow torch or candle flame sounds like something a creative person might think of doing.

        In response to Adrienne’s comment
        August 10, 2010

        In the article, ‘burning’ refers to writing data onto a CD, not actually burning the CD with fire. That’s just silly!

    • Anonymous says:

      thats so negative

    • STEVEN MORAN says:

      hi i make my old cds into clocks they look good and i put pictures on them any design i want by cuting out pictures from magazines and glueing the picture on them and then puting a clock motor on them and fingers

      • Beccie says:

        Steven, Beccie here. This is probably one of the best uses for old cd’s. Kudos to you and just think of how many ways to decorate them to give them as gifts. I love recycling for the gift ideas. They are from the heart and special to the person you are giving it to. Thanks Steven for this really unique idea. Beccie

    • Mr. Jay Matabudul says:

      Hi there!

      I am sending you this reply because I need about 100 cds that you want to dispose of. I am doing a project and I am looking for old but not damaged cd. So, please if you could send me some, I shall be grateful.


      My address is: 9 Norfolk House, 99 Norfolk Street, Leicester LE3 5QJ-
      United Kingdom.

      Kind regards and have a nice day!


      • Rebecca says:

        Hi Jay, I have a whole bunch of those free CDs and DVDs that used to come with newspapers and magazines. They are all in good condition. Will those do? I can post them out to you. What are you planning to do with them?

      • Sarah says:

        I’m clearing out all the CDs and DVDs that I used to use for work (and saving everything on a giant external hard drive). Most of the discs have writing on them. Does that matter, can I still send them to you?

      • Ellen Angus says:

        Jay, Are you still looking for cds?

      • Me says:

        You do know how dangerous it can be to publish your address online right? Hope you don’t still live there, people these days can’t all be trusted. I understand why you did it but not a very smart move.

  2. tony benson says:

    Discs have good reflective properties similar to amirror. If you want to experiment
    form numerous parabolic dishes with a long focal length and glue discs to the inside then direct the dish directly towards the sun you can provide a concentrated beam onto a small area. Anyone interested in solar energy and with a knowledge of physics please email to develop.this idea

    • Christine says:

      More info please. Was unsure about your email link.

    • Rob D says:

      Did you ever progress this idea? I see your message was from years ago.

      I always think that old CD’s could be good to use as roof tiles for sheds and such like. They are solar reflective and, if overlapped correctly, could be made into a waterproof shield.

      Has anyone done such a thing? Any tips?

  3. Robert Platten says:

    When you have collected about enough, thread them on a minature fluo’ tube. Light the tube with the appropriate circuitry. The light shines through the edges of the discs and makes a super-geeky table lamp for your computer desk!!!
    I have done it and it works! You can also use a small string of christmas tree lights with less effect.

  4. I recently discovered that a common toilet detergent with corrosive properties is able to completely remove the foil side of most cd and dvd discs rendering the data useless and leaving a relatively see-through cd like the one you get on top of a spindle behind.

    All you need to do is leave the discs in this detergent for a few days and then use a brush to remove the loose pieces. I decided to discard the detergent with the dyes and metal parts of the cd’s in a plastic sealed bottle after I’ve used it as much as possible.

    I’d love to hear some other ideas.

  5. Donna says:

    For years, I have been reusing CDs at Christmas time by putting colorful string or yarn on them and hanging them from a tree outdoors to create a very festive Christmas tree. I encouraged my neighbors to add theirs also and it became quite a spectacle. Adding lights makes them even more reflective. Sometimes I glue two together to cover the writing on one side. People come and look at it all holiday season long.
    I also use them as gift tags on packages since it is easy to write TO: and FROM: on them and it looks pretty too.
    I saw an idea for using them instead of bird scare tape. I am about to go hang some CDs on my grape vines and plum tree. The reflections look like fire to birds and scare them away. There is always plenty for our feathered friends too so I will allow them to eat the fruit after a few weeks.

  6. linda kilpatrick says:

    Hi.  I live in Texas and have a blog where I design and think up ideas to make crafts.  My daughter was throwing out some old CD’s so I came up with a way to recycle them into a wonderful gift idea.  The recipient won’t know it has a CD inside unless you tell them it’s there.  Here’s the link. This one is a draw string gift bag.
    This one uses 2 CD’s up and they are small cakes that look like the real thing. They can be used as table decorations or as gifts.
    This one uses one CD and is a gift basket.

    Hope you enjoy. Linda

  7. There are many interesting ideas for creatively reusing CDS. Just look throughout my group here on flickr:

    PET Bottle and other Plastics Recycled Creativity

    Flickr is free to join…there are millions of artists working with recycled materials from around the world on flickr.

  8. Drema says:

    Does anyone have ideas on how to recycle empty pill bottles?

  9. Cedar Wilde says:

    I hang mine in my fruit trees to stop the birds from eating the fruit. It seems to work very well. but I saw someone on TV making a birdbath with cement and lining it with broken CDs. It looked very pretty, not kitsch at all, probably doesn’t scare the birds because it’s stationary!

  10. J says:

    Paint palette! :D

  11. Ditte says:

    I made a lot of jewelry from cd’s, following these instructions:
    There are many good tips if you read the comments.
    And an additional site:

  12. I use mine as coasters for my cup of tea

  13. silvia says:

    If you put them on top of a little jar (the smaller ones from hotel marmelades or patè) and then you put them in the oven you’ll get nice shiny tea-lights holders!
    They’ll bend over the jar as little skirts.
    With a towel you can give them even more shape if you press down when they are still warm.

    they can be used as candy mini bowls or for whatever you want!

    You can do the same with old vinyl records, they take less time and are even cooler!!!

    I had a lot of fun actually!!

  14. These guys are great ! can you please feature them on your page please

    i have been supplying them with waste cd’s for 2 years now and they never surprise me with how helpful they are , i think the web site has all there details. Please let me know if you require any other information !!


    Sue Hargreaves

  15. Vivayne says:

    Use them to make a digital scrapbook. There are lender templates available, just google it.

  16. Petra says:

    You can make a drop spindle from 2 old cd’s. It’s very easy and works fine, especially to spin plarn.

  17. Melissa says:

    The gov’t of Canada is involved in a zero waste data recycling program. You can send cd’s, vhs, dvd, floppy disks to the following address. All data is erased prior to recycling.

    I just keep a small box to fill with the above items and when it is full, I’ll mail it off.

  18. Rebecca DeConinck says:

    If anyone has CD cases they don’t want, we need them at Jubilee Library to replace broken ones (especially the front covers). – That’s Brighton main library. Thanks

    • Dave Voisey says:

      Ref. CD cases.
      I have about 30 but although I live in north of Scotland I do occasionally go through to Minehead. Can arrange something sometime in the far future. Let me have a contact please.

  19. nephele says:

    how about stick a holder and make it a fan.

  20. Sara says:

    My mother actually collected the AOL discs, badly-burned DVDs and CDs and made them into Christmas ornaments for an outside tree. The light reflects off of them super-pretty and they’re always reusable decorations because any wear/tear (scratches and such) actually give them more character.

  21. stella says:

    suncatchers are fun craft for kids to make, on the printed side, stick sequins, rhimestones, glitter etc, leave the other side plain – it is already sparkly. Hang up with fishing line in a sunny window. String a few together one below the other for a retro mobile. Mix small ones in, too. Make a few for a room divider or curtain. Stick up on the wall all the way around a room as a border, or in a shape on the wall, eg 3×3 square, use blue tac or similar. Glue printed sides together if you just like the look of the cd (I do!). They can also be drilled. drill one hole at the top and a number of holes along the bottom side and attach a row of beads or other danglies. break up and use as mosaic pieces. Sit a tealight candle in the middle of a cd. I can never get enough old cds!

  22. Michelle says:

    I had our preschool class make spinning tops out of old cd’s or dvd’s.
    First I had them either color plan paper or use old scraps of different kinds of paper. Trace around the cd to use as a pattern, glue or tape to the top of cd. Take a marble and hot glue it to the bottom of the cd, let dry. For the top (the part you hand on to, to spin it) I used a old lego and hot glued to the cd (you can use anything as long as you can grab ahold of it to spin the cd) They played with these forever!!

  23. chloe says:

    my friends and i always do a secret santa
    this year i gave my friend ella a cd disco ball

    all you have to do is break up the old cds in to little pieces and glue them to a 6 inch stirafome ball

  24. Muddy LaBoue says:

    My sister built a giant plywood frame in the shape of a Christmas tree and drilled holes in it to accommodate Christmas bulbs. Around each bulb is the sparkly side of a used CD, backed by a pie pan. She fixed a heavy-duty hook (that could bear the weight of it all) into the side of her brick house. Every year after checking for lights that no longer work, she hangs it up and has a beautiful (if a bit kitsch) Christmas decoration that gets lots of comments and requests for instructions. See a photo on at the above URL.

  25. I just noticed on line that the USS Nimitz will likely be located in Everett at this point. If any of us lives around there, be on the lookout- this unique boat is really remarkable!

  26. Tamara says:

    I made a pallete–for painting… by gluing plastic bottle caps to old cds with hot glue

  27. I know it’s been said before but CD art is a fantastic way to recycle your old CD’s.

  28. Mal says:

    I run a Beaver Scout Colony and we quite often use old cd’s/dvd’s for craft projects. Although I work with the 6-8year olds my son who is an Explorer Scout (14-16year olds) came home from a camp with a cd letter holder. So it might be worth checking out local Scout Groups or Schools to see it they are interested in taking them off of you hands.

  29. Lainey Lee says:

    I cut a cd in a half and 2 quarters. Then I use the half as a Christmas tree angel’s wings. I use the square part up and the rounded part down. I glue the little triangle on in the middle for the skirt with the sharp part in the middle of the wings. I use a large sequin or button for her head and add a halo of shiny tiny thread and make a hanger of the same thread. You can add a 4 inch doily over the skirt and wings if you like. At her waist, I have a tiny tied bow. Hope this makes sense.

  30. Victoria says:

    A good reuse idea for CDs is to chop them into smaller randommbits and tie with string/line then tie in the garden to use for keeping birds from vegetable patches – works a treat, and no bits of tin foil blowing away!

  31. is the best place to recycle cds and dvds in the uk ! diskrecycling = cd recycling . Great service great people

  32. Karen Stewart says:

    Children may enjoy making decorations with them. Use their imagination and stick bits of coloured foil, stickers, feathers, buttons etc. Then thread a bit of string and hang up.

  33. Maree says:

    Hi I was at a vintage sale in a night club last weekend. They had CDS and Lps with clock fittings on them. absolutely fab!!!

  34. Don’t forget about the importance of data destruction. If the disks contain personal information (typically from backing up hard disks) then the data will need to disposed of.

    Provided there is no sensitive data they do have a decorative quality to them and can be used as exterior decoration to boxes etc.

  35. Reba says:

    A very fun craft idea for children: Glue a marble into the hole on the CD, then glue a bottle cap on top of it on one side, and you’ve got a fun TOP for kids to spin. Good for small motor skills, and good for lots of giggles! My boys love them! And they spin forever! :)

  36. Hi All

    We take scrap DVD/CD at our charity in Sheffield along with SIM cards and any other widgets suitable for recycling.

  37. João Pedro - QUI 2A says:

    Oh my God, what great ideas! I have many old CDs here in my father’s house, I asked him to give me all those are stacked in the closet and we will do a “painting” as a gift to my mother, her birthday is coming! We used to burn CDs every week for our family gatherings, we were accumulating a lot of garbage, and now we have reduced the amount we recycle all old!

  38. Anonymous says:

    For decorative purposes, we can use CDs for making foto frames.

  39. debi johnson says:

    I us the plastic covers to put photos in or art,
    hot glue some together or overlap them to
    take on a 3Daffect great gifts for kids to do.
    Glue pop can tabs on back to hang using a thumb tack
    on the wall will fit can tabs

  40. Alena says:

    Elderly sometimes have hard time discerning their car from similar cars. Placing ones favorite old CD’s, with label visible, on a dashboard and by back window can help in identifying.

  41. Alena says:

    Make huge funky glasses out of two CD’s. :)

  42. Wrap the tissue paper around the bottom of the bag.
    Cut once after measuring twice, this is the most important rule of the
    carpenters who believe in making perfect objects in perfect time.

    If you have spilled glue, our first reaction is to get a paper towel or sponge and wipe it up.

  43. Jay Matabudul says:

    Hi! Ellen,
    Thanks for your message. I don’t need any more !
    Thanks again.

  44. tim says:

    #cdrecycling ! Great article! I think I will always have a cds collection till the day I die!

    However as cds seem to age less and less well, more and more people are looking for eco freindly ways of disposing of unwanted , damaged discs and cases#cdrecycling

    For individuals or small businesses we can provide a specially designed box that holds up to 400 CD, DVD, Blu-Ray discs ( 7.1 Kg ) Charge covers, delivery and return postage cost, secure processing & recycling.

  45. While they are generally not recyclable through local drop-off or curbside programs, there are a few well-established programs that separate and retrieve the various materials and recycle them. Cases and CD’s are pelletized, then end up as egg cartons and automotive parts.

  46. Jane Best says:

    My sister-in-law had a load of CDs from me to hang in her chicken coup and the hens love them and find them very curious!

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