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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four Ways to Recycle Damaged Jewel Cases

Jewel cases crack; their hinges snap; and their disc teeth break. It’s no wonder so many of our customers are signing up for case transfers, requesting their CDs arrive repackaged in more durable, drop-box-safe cases. But what do you do with all the broken Jewels you have back at your library? In honor of Earth Day, we decided to research and share with you how to recycle your Jewel cases.

Unfortunately, recycling your Jewels isn’t as simple as tossing them in your city-issued big blue recycling receptacle. Jewel cases are made from brittle polystyrene—a type of plastic that takes a very long time to biodegrade. Because of its light weight and low scrap value, polystyrene is not easily recycled, thus most curbside collection programs do not accept it. Many people then turn to simply tossing their polystyrene—like Styrofoam, yogurt cups, and disposable razors—into the garbage, ultimately contributing to beach and ocean debris as well as incinerators and permanent landfills.

Most recycling centers encourage people to reuse their Jewel cases if possible—like as a lamp, a birdhouse, or bookends. Has your library done an activity that involves reusing Jewel cases? If so, what creative things did your team and/or patrons make?

If your cases are destroyed, though, and therefore not reusable, there are a handful of recycling options:

1.) CD Recycling Center of America advises people to box up all their damaged Jewel cases; mark the box “Cases Only”; and ship the box to:

The Compact Disc Recycling Center of America
68E Stiles Road
Salem, NH 03079

They’ll recycle the damaged cases for you, and while you’ll have to pay for shipping, you’ll generate less trash, contribute less to landfills, and decrease the amount of incinerator emissions polluting our air. CD Recycling Center of America suggests your library make a campaign of it and encourage patrons to also donate any damaged cases.

Note: CD Recycling Center of America also recycles damaged discs. You can box up your discs and mark the package “discs only” and ship it to the same above address.

2.) CD Recycling Central, located in California, has drop-off centers in Chino and San Diego, offers pick-up service throughout southern California, and (luckily for us non-Californians) happily accepts any mailed items. To mail your damaged cases, simply box them up and ship them to:

Polysource International Inc.
401 S. Euclid Ave.
Ontario, California 91761

Once again, you pay for shipping, but CD Recycling Central notes that if you ship “media mail” you’ll pay less for postage. You can also toss any damaged discs you want recycled into your box as well. Discs and cases do not need separated.

3.) GreenDisk also offers Jewel case collection as well as a slew of other “technotrash” (like discs, ink cartridges, cell phones, videotapes, pagers, and PDAs). After packing up your damaged cases and weighing your box, you can purchase and print a shipping label through GreenDisk’s site.

GreenDisk differs from the other two companies above in that a small fee is worked into the shipping amount you purchase. However, you are able to box up other “technotrash” in your case box and have GreenDisk take care of recycling all of it.

4.) Visit, and enter “#6 Plastic (Polystyrene)” and your library’s city or zip code to search for nearby drop-off recycling centers. You can then follow packaging and drop-off instructions provided by the listed nearby centers. screenshot

How Midwest Tape Recycles Cases
We here at Midwest Tape are really big on recycling too. In 2010, we recycled 262,050 pounds of plastic DVD and CD cases. We work with a local plastic solution company that collects and recycles our Polystyrene for use in underground utility boxes.

Now that we’ve reviewed ways to recycle Jewel cases, let’s get your insights. Know of any other ways to recycle damaged cases? What else does your library reuse or recycle? How are you celebrating Earth Day?


  1. i love those 4 steps to recycle damage jewelery cases.. very interesting i must say.

  2. What about encouraging companies to make CD cases out of RECYCLABLE materials?

    And why are companies using ANY packaging materials these days that are not recyclable?


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