How to Dispose of CDs and DVDs in the UK

In today’s digital age, the way we consume music, movies, and other forms of entertainment has dramatically shifted. Gone are the days when we’d eagerly await the release of a new album in CD format or the latest blockbuster on DVD. With the rise of streaming platforms and digital downloads, physical CDs and DVDs have seen a significant decline in popularity. But what happens to the vast collections many of us have accumulated over the years?

Understanding the Need for Proper Disposal

As we transition to a more digital-centric world, the CDs today might seem obsolete. However, simply tossing them in the bin without a second thought can have lasting repercussions. Let’s delve into why it’s crucial to dispose of these items responsibly.

The Environmental Toll of Improper Disposal:

  • Non-Biodegradable Material: CDs and DVDs are primarily made of polycarbonate plastic. When discarded in landfills, they can take hundreds of years to break down.
  • Chemical Leaching: Over time, the layers and coatings of CDs and DVDs can release harmful chemicals into the soil, potentially contaminating groundwater sources.
  • Waste Accumulation: With millions of discs produced over the decades, improper disposal contributes significantly to non-biodegradable waste in landfills.

Unlocking the Potential Value of Old CDs and DVDs:

  • Monetary Worth: Some CDs, especially those from the early days of the format, can be collectible. For instance, original pressings like ABBA’s “The Visitors” from 1982 have been known to fetch substantial amounts on platforms like eBay.
  • Trade-In Platforms: Websites such as WeBuyBooks, Music Magpie, and Zapper offer users the chance to turn their old discs into cash. By simply entering the barcode, you can get an immediate valuation and even free postage to send them in.
  • Donation and Upcycling: Companies like Revive Innovations, based in Bristol, transform unwanted CDs into unique materials like RE-CD, showcasing the potential for creative reuse.

Understanding the environmental implications and the latent value in our old collections underscores the importance of thoughtful disposal. Whether it’s recycling, selling, or donating, there are numerous avenues to ensure that our old CDs and DVDs find a new purpose or are discarded in an eco-friendly manner.

Donating CDs and DVDs in Good Condition

One of the most fulfilling ways to declutter and give your old CDs and DVDs a new lease on life is through donation. By passing on these items, you not only free up space in your home but also contribute positively to the community and environment.

Benefits of Passing on Discs

  • Extended Life Cycle: Instead of collecting dust or ending up in a landfill, these discs get a chance to entertain a new set of listeners or viewers.
  • Environmental Impact: Donating reduces the demand for new disc production, which in turn reduces the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing.
  • Community Support: Donations often support charity shops, which use the proceeds to fund various community projects and initiatives.

Charity Shop

  • Criteria for Acceptance: While many charity shops are happy to receive CDs and DVDs, it’s essential to ensure they’re in good condition. This means no deep scratches, smudges, or broken cases. Remember, a disc that doesn’t play smoothly isn’t of much use to its next owner.
  • Checking Before Donating: Given the decline in demand for physical media, some charity shops have become selective about the types of discs they accept. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and check their current acceptance policies.
  • Special Mention: Some charity shops may have recycling schemes for damaged discs. If they’re part of such a program, they can ensure that even non-playable CDs and DVDs are disposed of responsibly.

Swapping with Friends and Family

  • Rediscovering Classics: Swapping allows you and your loved ones to rediscover classics or explore new genres without any additional cost.
  • Building Connections: Sharing music and movies can be a bonding experience, sparking conversations and shared memories.
  • Economical and Sustainable: Instead of buying new, swapping promotes a culture of reuse, which is both wallet-friendly and eco-friendly.

Selling Your Old CDs and DVDs

While donating is a noble way to declutter, selling your old CDs and DVDs can be both financially rewarding and environmentally responsible. With several platforms available in the UK, turning your old collection into cash has never been easier.

Popular Platforms for Selling

  • WeBuyBooks: A user-friendly site that offers instant valuations for CDs, DVDs, books, and games. Simply enter the barcode, and they’ll provide a quote. Plus, they cover postage costs, making the process hassle-free.
  • Music Magpie: One of the UK’s most popular trade-in sites, Music Magpie allows users to sell CDs, DVDs, computer games, and even tech. With their easy-to-use system, you can get a quote by entering the barcode and send items with free postage.
  • Zapper: This platform offers a straightforward way to sell unwanted CDs, DVDs, and other items. After getting an instant valuation, you can send your items for free.
  • Ziffit: Another excellent platform for trading in old media, Ziffit provides quick valuations and offers free postage for sending in your items.

Determining the Value of Your Collection

  • Condition Matters: The better the condition of your CD or DVD, the higher the value. Ensure discs are free from deep scratches, and cases are intact.
  • Rarity and Demand: Limited edition releases, special box sets, or out-of-print titles can fetch a higher price.
  • Research: Before selling, it’s wise to check multiple platforms to get the best possible price for your items.

Special Mention: Collectible CDs and Their Potential Worth

  • Early Pressings: Some of the earliest CDs, especially those marked “Made in West Germany,” can be highly sought after by collectors. For instance, an original pressing of ABBA’s “The Visitors” from 1982 recently sold for over £300 on eBay.
  • Iconic Releases: Albums like the early “Now That’s What I Call Music” CDs have become collector’s items, with some mint condition copies fetching several hundred pounds.
  • Research and Expertise: If you believe you have a potentially valuable CD, it might be worth consulting with a specialist or doing in-depth research to determine its true value.

Recycling Options in the UK

As the digital age progresses, the stacks of CDs and DVDs in our homes may seem increasingly redundant. However, simply tossing them into the bin isn’t the best solution. Recycling these items is a more environmentally-friendly approach, ensuring that the materials are repurposed and don’t end up in landfills.

Understanding the Recyclability of CDs, DVDs, and Their Cases

  • Material Composition: CDs and DVDs are primarily made of polycarbonate plastic, which is recyclable. Their cases, often referred to as “jewel cases,” are typically made from a type of plastic called polystyrene, which is also recyclable.
  • Environmental Benefits: Recycling these items reduces the need for new raw materials, conserves energy, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Current Recycling Facilities and Their Limitations

  • Limited Public Facilities: As of now, there are limited facilities in the UK that accept CDs and DVDs for recycling from the general public.
  • Local Council Restrictions: Most local council household recycling centres do not currently recycle CDs. It’s advised not to place them in your household recycling bin as they can contaminate other recyclables.
  • Specialized Companies: Some companies, like Revive Innovations in Bristol, have taken the initiative to recycle unwanted CDs, converting them into unique materials like RE-CD.

Recycling Paper Inserts and Plastic Jewel Cases

  • Paper Inserts: These can be recycled with regular paper in your household waste recycling collection. Ensure they are free from plastic or any non-paper attachments.
  • Jewel Cases: While the cases are made of recyclable polystyrene, not all recycling centres accept them due to the different processes required. It’s best to check with your local recycling facility or council to see if they accept plastic jewel cases.
  • Alternative Uses: If recycling isn’t an option, consider repurposing jewel cases. They can be used for storage, crafts, or even as frames for small photos.

Creative Reuse Ideas

Before you consider discarding those old CDs and DVDs, think about the myriad of creative ways they can be repurposed. From garden hacks to artistic masterpieces, these shiny discs can be transformed into something both functional and beautiful.

Garden Deterrents for Birds

  • Natural Reflectors: The reflective surfaces of CDs and DVDs can deter birds from pecking at your fruits and vegetables. By hanging them around your garden, the sunlight reflection can scare off birds, protecting your crops.
  • Wind Chimes: String multiple discs together to create a shimmering wind chime. Not only will it deter birds, but it’ll also add a melodic touch to your garden.

Artistic and Decorative Projects

  • Mosaic Art: Break CDs and DVDs into smaller pieces and use them to create stunning mosaic patterns on tabletops, photo frames, or wall art.
  • Decorative Coasters: With a bit of felt backing, old discs can be turned into unique coasters for your coffee table.
  • Wall Decor: Arrange CDs in patterns on a wall for a futuristic, reflective wall decor piece. Add LED lights for an added effect.
  • Jewellery: With a bit of creativity, CDs can be cut and shaped into earrings, necklaces, or even brooches.

Fun Anecdotes: Famous Uses of CDs in Fashion and Art

  • Pop Muzik’s Shimmering Suit: Robin Scott, the lead singer of the band ‘M’, wore a suit entirely covered in CDs during a performance of their song ‘Pop Muzik’ on Top Of The Pops. This dazzling outfit showcased the versatility of CDs beyond their musical purpose.
  • Fashion Runways: Over the years, several fashion designers have incorporated CDs into their outfits, turning them into shimmering dresses, accessories, and even headpieces.
  • Art Installations: Artists globally have used CDs to create large-scale installations, reflecting on the transient nature of technology and the beauty of repurposing.


In an era where digital media reigns supreme, it’s easy to overlook the stacks of CDs and DVDs that once held pride of place in our homes. However, as we’ve explored, these items shouldn’t be hastily discarded. The importance of responsible disposal cannot be overstated. By choosing to recycle, sell, donate, or creatively repurpose our old discs, we not only reduce environmental harm but also promote a culture of sustainability.


Can you put CDs and DVDs in the recycling bin?

Most local council household recycling centres in the UK do not currently accept CDs and DVDs for recycling. It’s advised not to place them in your household recycling bin as they can contaminate other recyclables. Instead, consider other disposal methods like selling, donating, or using specialized recycling services.

How do you destroy CDs and DVDs?

If you need to ensure data on CDs or DVDs is unrecoverable, you can physically destroy them by cutting or shredding. Some office shredders have slots specifically designed for CDs and DVDs. Alternatively, you can scratch the reflective surface thoroughly or use a disc destruction device.

Can you put CDs in general waste?

While you can put CDs and DVDs in general waste, it’s not the most environmentally-friendly option. They will end up in landfills and can take hundreds of years to decompose. It’s better to consider alternative disposal methods that are more sustainable.