CD recycling gets rolling

Used CDs can be turned into spectacle frames or crash helmets, a miraculous transformation we owe to a recycling idea first applied in Switzerland in 2009. The Migros Cooperative East Switzerland has lent a helping hand.

Midday in the Migros store in Neuwiesen, Winterthur. People are rushing about. They don’t give a second glance at the CD collection point near the entrance. But one woman stops, looks mistrustfully in the box, reads the sign carefully and takes a leaflet, then carries on. When she comes back, it will be with old CDs. That’s almost certain. There is a huge need for a sensible way to dispose of and reuse old CDs, as a campaign in East Switzerland has demonstrated. A pilot project was started at three collection points in Winterthur, Wetzikon and Frauenfeld in March 2009. By the end of the year 1.2 tonnes of used CDs and DVDs had been collected, over 120 kilos every month.

Norbert Grossen, the store manager at Migros Neuwiesen, had not expected such large volumes: «I approved of trying to collect CDs, but I would never have thought it would be so successful.» Things would never have got that far without the original idea and, above all, a person with as much initiative as Claudia Stocker Suter. «I read in the newspaper that recycling CDs made sense, but that no one was doing it yet in Switzerland.» That was something she was keen to change, and she did.

CDs and DVDs are made of polycarbonate, which is ideal for recycling. Shredded granules can be used to make crash helmets, car bumpers, monitor casings and spectacle frames. After intensive research Claudia came up with a CD recycling plan as part of a WWF course on environmental consulting and communication, and founded reDisc.

With an idea and a plan, all she needed now was the right partner to launch it: «The people at Migros Cooperative East Switzerland were thrilled when I rang up and leapt on the idea at once,» she recalls. The pilot project got under way: posters were printed and collection boxes assembled and installed in the three branches selected.


At a meeting in late November 2009 the pioneers from East Switzerland presented their successful pilot project to recycling specialists from other Migros Cooperatives. They liked the idea. The network of collection points will be expanded to Migros stores across German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino by the end of 2010, starting with the larger stores (MMM and a few MM stores). In East Switzerland the project will become a permanent fixture in the three existing locations and other stores in 2010. To add the final touch, there will be a separate slot for old CDs at Migros collection points.