Reader Deb submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
I have stacks and stacks of unusable discs that I need to get rid of before I move. Throwing them in garbage seems wrong. Are there any options for proper and safe disposal of these?
This is an interesting question because “proper and safe” can mean two very different things. You could be talking about environmentally friendly solutions or you could mean destroying the information on the discs. Both are excellent questions, so I wanted to address both of them.
Environmentally friendly destruction:
Rewritable CDs are the easiest types of CDs to recycle since they can be reused if in working condition. Business teachers in high schools across the country would very likely be interested in those CDs. Listing them on Freecycle is also a great idea. Just be sure to write over any sensitive data with nonsense before you make your donation.
If the CD is damaged or not rewritable, then they can be donated to a CD recycling company. The discs will be cleaned, ground up, blended with other materials and reused in other plastic products. Search the internet for a CD recycling company that works best for you.
Destruction of information:
One argument against recycling CDs, especially discs with sensitive data on them, is that it takes energy to get the CDs to a recycling company. If you end up shipping your CDs across the country for recycling, you may end up doing more environmental damage with fuel and exhaust.
If you’re not near a CD recycling center and your discs are full of sensitive data, it is probably best to just shred the discs using heavy duty shears or in your paper shredder (if it’s approved for such uses). Then, toss the shreds into the trash. Yes, you’ll be putting the plastic into a landfill, but it might ultimately have less impact on the environment.
Thank you, Deb, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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