Recycle DVD Cases: Can You Recycle DVD & Blu-Ray Cases?

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Yes, it is possible to recycle DVD and Blu-Ray cases, but the plastic parts are rarely accepted in your curbside recycling programs. Instead, check your local recycling center, donate or give them away, or repurpose them.

DVD cases stacked on a shelf

What are DVD cases made out of?

The standard black clamshell design is made from plastic: polypropylene, or PP 5, for the hard part, and polyethylene terephthalate, or PET 1, for the translucent film. Because these often aren’t accepted curbside they have low recycling rates, which contributes to waste and pollution. The paper inside is just that – paper – and can be easily removed and recycled.

What about Blu-rays?

Blu-ray cases are made of the same materials as cd cases: polypropylene, or PP 5, for the hard part, and polyethylene terephthalate, or PET 1, for the translucent film. The blue color is simply a marketing device to distinguish them from their DVD counterparts.

And what about Jewel cases?

Jewel cases are the square, often clear (although they can come in many colors) plastic cases that are used for music CDs, but you’ll also find if you purchase blank DVD-Rs. These are made from injection-molded polystyrene, or PS 6. Styrofoam recycling is more widespread, so you may be able to leave these at the curbside.

Is throwing away DVD & Blu-Ray cases bad for the environment?

Yes, trashing your case is bad for the environment. Because they are plastic, they do not decompose, and so any sent to landfill will remain there long after the owner has gone! Additionally, should the waste end up in an incinerator, these plastics make noxious fumes that are bad for both the environment and human health.

While throwing your old ones in the trash and calling it a day may seem like a convenient option, if you can recycle them, both your health and the earth will thank you.

How are DVD & Blu-Ray cases recycled?

While the process isn’t necessarily widespread, the PP 5 and PP 6 plastics can be melted down and formed into new products like electronics, toys, and building materials. These hard plastics are commonplace, and there is no shortage of products being made that can take advantage of them. The issue is that the cost of recycling means it is often cheaper to create new plastic products rather than recycling existing ones.

Where can I recycle DVD and Blu-Ray cases?

While PET 1 (used to make CD jewel cases) is accepted in most curbside programs, but only a tiny percentage of curbside programs will recycle the PP 5 and PS 6 used for DVD cases. Some recycling centers will accept these in their recycling program if you take them yourself, but unfortunately this solution still isn’t hugely common. You may need to find alternative uses for them rather than throwing them away.

How to Reduce Your DVD Case Waste

When local recycling centers won’t take your cases, you need to take other steps to reduce your waste. We recommend the following:

  1. Take care of your cases – If you can’t recycle them, you want to keep them in a usable state so they can be reused; a broken case will probably end up in a landfill. Taking care of them also makes it more likely you can give away or sell unwanted DVDs at a later date.
  2. Sell or give away unwanted DVDs or Blu-Rays – Give your DVDs and Blu-Rays to charity or sell them on so that someone else can use them. As long as the discs are being reused, they’re not creating waste. 
  3. Give them away – Try your local thrift shops. These stores often receive loose DVDs without a case. Your case could be reused by these DVDs a home. You may also want to try advertising on social media as some people may need cases (even without contents) to provide protection for their own loose CDs and DVDs.
  4. Only buy what you need – Do you need another film? Could you use streaming services instead? Don’t buy DVDs and their cases if you’re going to get rid of it 12 months later. DVDs and their case are for life – not just for Christmas!

When all else fails, get creative and try to upcycle your old cases as something else. Here are a few ideas:

  • Travel set for kids – Put a small game or some lego in the case to create a handy game for long journeys. Checkers, anyone?
  • Chic photo wall – Replace the DVD artwork with your own photos; use several to create a photo wall.
  • Large dominoes – Turn excess cases into large dominoes; great for garden parties.

What About The CDs and DVDs?

Of course, you also need to do something with the CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays themselves, which are made of polycarbonate plastic. Click here to get some ideas, such as creating disco balls!
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