CDs and DVDs

Music CDs, DVDs, Blue-ray discs and DVD ROMs: several billion of these shiny discs are placed on the global market every year. Because these data media contain valuable plastic, their recycling via retail outlets and collection points makes sense.

Whereas the silver discs containing films and music are often used for a long time, software and saved data quickly become obsolete. However, there is no legislative basis for the take-back and disposal of CDs. Recycling is entirely based on the good will of consumers and the voluntary participation of retailers.

Ecological assessment

Over 90% of CDs and DVDs consists of polycarbonate. They also contain aluminium, lacquers, dyes and material from adhesive labels. Although they do not pose a problem in terms of pollutants as the are suitable for incineration with municipal solid waste, recycling is a better option as polycarbonate is in demand as a secondary raw material. This is due to the high manufacturing costs of the new material and because most of its properties are conserved even after recycling. In addition, recycling saves on the non-renewable resource oil.

Separate collection

Disused CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs can be handed into some electronics retail outlets and certain communal waste collection points. It makes sense to collect the silver discs in companies, schools and administrative bodies. An ideal time for such collections arises, for example, when updating to a new computer operating system. To ensure that the data on the discs being disposed of cannot be read, the metal coating on the upper side of the disc must be rubbed off.


During the recycling of CDs and DVDs, the polycarbonate is separated from the other materials and processed into granulate. Although the mechanical properties of recycled polycarbonate are almost identical to those of new material, it cannot be used to produce new silver discs. The requirements in relation to the optical properties are too high. The recycled material is used for other products, for example in the computer and car industries.


Collections and disposal are financed voluntarily on a private-sector basis and handled by SWICO Recycling. Returns do not usually involve any costs for consumers.

Further information

Last modification 04.07.2019

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