Q&A.; Recycling Electronic Media

Q. Hi, I work at a publishing company. I will have thousands of cassette tapes and CD's to dispose of. I am wondering if you can guide me to some organization that may want to recycle these? I'd appreciate your feedback. Thanks, Patricia.
A. Thanks for the Q, Patricia. You're not alone in your need for a more responsible way to send old recordings to a better home than the landfill. According to Worldwatch, 45 tons of CDs, made from polycarbonate plastic and aluminum, become obsolete. Every month. Findings below.The University of California, Davis collect CDs so that their reprocessors can extract the 20mg of gold found on the recordable versions. Their R4 recycling program also suggests imaginative ways to 'reuse' CDs. Such as scarecrows for the garden patch, as coasters, christmas tree decorations, letterbox markers or even as mosaics to make a disco ball. We also came across a DIY enthusiast, who uses 300 disks to make 4' x 8' solar concentrator to boost solar panel output!

However with your business needs, you might try GreenDisk, who have long dealt with software publishers to recover their obsolete software. They partner with non-profit agencies with recycling centers who create jobs for workers with disabilities. Seems the CDs and CD cases are ground and reprocessed into products like CD holders and other office goods.

Another US based operation is Lacerta. They look like they can help with all you data medium from CDs through to all sorts of tapes. With the latter Lacerta "separate the coating materials from the polyester base film in an environmentally sound process, and recover both materials for reuse." They figure that through their process that "up to 40 million pounds per year of tape, housings and other materials can be eliminated from the waste stream."

Across in the UK, is a company, with the highly evocative name of Polymer Reprocessors . Not only do PR recycle the crystal cases but they chomp up the disks too. They first extract the paint, aluminium and data from the surface of the disk. This goes to on to be insulation in electric cables. Now cleaned the disk is munched up so it can then be injection moulded into new products such as burgular alarm boxes and street lighting. PR recycle 100% of the materials from packaged CDs.

We also read that the polycarbonate (aka ABS) from CDs and DVDs has found its way into automobile parts too.

Patricia, we hope this helps some.