One headache of owning an impressive DVD or game collection is that you may find yourself with an overabundance of empty plastic cases. If you are environmentally conscious, you may be eager to take steps to keep this plastic out of the landfill.
So that might make you wonder, are my old DVD and game cases recyclable? How can I dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way? Keep reading to find out these answers and more!
Can You Recycle DVD and Video Game Cases?
The ability to recycle empty plastic DVD and game cases depends how your local recycling program handles plastic #5 and #6 materials. Some towns accept this type of plastic for recycling, others do not. Furthermore, only your local town recycling center can tell you for sure.
Continue reading to learn why tossing your disc cases in a recycling bin may not be allowed in your area. This article will also give you some ideas on how to avoid the need to recycle by reusing the disc case for another purpose!
What Material are Disc Cases Made of?
The traditional, soft plastic DVD cases are made of polypropylene. In the world of recycling, this is considered a Type #5 plastic.
This Type #5 is the second most common type of plastic and is used in yogurt cups, straws, syrup containers, and prescription bottles.
Your collection may also have hard plastic cases, often used to hold CDs.
These are made of polystyrene, which is actually a form of Styrofoam, just with a lot less air baked into it.
Furthermore, this material is considered Type #6 rigid plastic. Take note of the word “rigid” because your recycling center may treat “rigid #6” differently from “foam #6”.
Additionally, you can double-check the type of plastic by looking closely at the case, there you should find a triangle recycling emblem with a number in the center.
Many of the disc cases produced in modern times also come with an imprinted warning “This case may not be recyclable in your area”.
This leads us into the discussion about why recycling plastic cases are complicated.
Where Can I Recycle Disc Cases?
Plastic types #1 and #2, the most common plastics we come into contact with each day, are easy for recycling companies to break down and recycle.
Therefore, being easy to recycle means it is cheap to recycle, so most towns are happy to accept this plastic into their recycling stream.
However, all other plastic types, #3 through #7, can be expensive for the towns to dispose of.
As a result, only 3% of this more challenging plastic is successfully recycled today.
Furthermore, each municipality decides on the types of plastics they will accept into their recycling program:
- Some towns treat disc cases like any other type of plastic, allowing you to just toss the cases in the recycling bin and drag them to the street.
- Other towns will accept disc cases, but only if you drive to a specific recycling center of their choice, and place them in the proper container.
- Finally, some towns will not accept this type of plastic at all and, instead, tell you to toss the cases into the trash can.
The recycling of disc cases is very dependent on local recycling rules and the only way to know the rules of your area is for you to do a little research to find out.
Are Discarded Disc Cases Bad for the Environment?
Scientists and environmentalists are telling us that all types of plastic, including disc cases, are bad for the environment.
If placed in a landfill, plastic can take 400 years to decompose, and much of the plastic thrown out ends up washing into oceans.
Furthermore, an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic is flushed into our waterways each year.
That is like putting 5 grocery bags on every foot of the shoreline in the world.
Sadly, studies predict that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than there will be fish.
Additionally, besides being unpleasant to look at, having plastic in our oceans harms the ecosystem.
Marine life becomes entangled or ingests the plastic, leading to starvation.
Also, the ingestion of plastic allows the chemicals in plastic to slowly seep into the tissue of marine life.
Since big fish eat little fish, those chemicals crawl up the food chain and onto dinner plates in the process of bio-magnification.
Given the environmental impact of plastics, it is important for everyone to try to recycle or repurpose their disc cases as much as possible.
Repurposing Disc Cases: Donate
If you are not eager to put plastic in a landfill, here are some ideas for how you can reuse your old disc cases for another purpose.
Consider donating the cases to places such as schools or libraries.
These places may be interested in replacing cases from their collections that are cracked and damaged, or having an empty case available if they burn a data disc.
You can also donate to a non-profit such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill.
These organizations may sell the empty cases, replace cracked cases they find, or use them for discs that arrived without a case.
A final option is to list the discs for free on social media groups such as Freecycle, Facebook, and Craigslist. Maybe you will find a stranger who has a perfect use for them.
Repurposing Disc Cases: Get Creative and Upcycle
A simple internet search can reveal dozens and dozens of crafty ideas for repurposing disc cases, such as:
- Drink coasters
- Trays to hold and mix paint
- Scare away birds in the garden
- Container for sewing supplies, or first-aid supplies
- Small dry erase boards
- Photo frames, and photo cubes
So, if you are crafty and looking for a project, then plastic cases may be a great material for you to consider.
Reduce Disc Cases: Go Digital
The best way to solve the plastic disc case problem is to simply stop buying plastic disc cases.
It may be time for you to abandon DVDs, and move to digital streaming of movies.
You will find a near-endless supply of movies available at a click of the button, for a price cheaper than a DVD, all while helping to solve the world’s plastic problem.
Furthermore, most modern gaming systems also have an option to download the game instead of purchasing a physical disc.
Additionally, if you have data storage needs, consider switching to a USB flash drive. This storage option is relatively cheap and the drives are reusable.
It is also interesting to note because the technology inside the flash drive is in high demand; they are actually easier to recycle than plastic.
However, if you still have a need to burn data to a disc, be sure to reuse your old cases rather than buy new ones.
To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle foil and latex balloons, whether you can recycle clothing tags, and whether you can recycle bleach bottles.
To successfully recycle a disc case, you must first determine the type of plastic that it is made of. Then, call up your town recycling center and ask for their rules around that type of plastic. If you are unhappy with the town’s answer, then consider donating the cases to a worthy cause.
Alternatively, you can get creative and repurpose the cases for a craft project. Furthermore, please keep trying to recycle as the health of the world’s oceans depends on the successful recycling of the plastics that everyone consumes on a daily basis.