Can You Recycle Valuable Silver from CDs, DVDs, and the Drives that Read and Burn Them?

Do your old CDs and DVDs contain silver that is worth refining? And what about CD-ROM drives and similar drives that you’ve pulled from older computers?

Let’s take a closer look at what those items could be worth.

Shown: gold-bearing scrap CD-ROM drives with gold fingers and printed circuits that can be recycled by Specialty Metals.

Shown: gold-bearing scrap CD-ROM drives with gold fingers and printed circuits that can be recycled by Specialty Metals.

CDs and DVDs

Are extremely valuable quantities of silver layered onto your old CDs or DVDs? Instead of making you wait until the end of today’s post for the answer to that question, we’ll answer it now. The answer is no. Even though CDs and DVDs can contain amounts of silver that has been applied with sputtering target technology, the amount of silver there is simply too small to be worth recycling. (If blank CDs and DVDs cost only a few pennies each, how could it be any other way?)

But there is a colorful history about hobbyists who have tried to remove the metallic surface of those discs, and who even invented a way to do to it. They discovered that if they applied a layer of duct tape to the surface of a CD or DVD and then ripped it away (ouch!), the metallic surface of the disc could be removed from the clear plastic disc underneath. After doing that, the hobbyists then discovered that the metals they had extracted were not worth much, despite their efforts.

CD-ROM, DVD and Other Drives

Now we’re discussing something that is worth more. If you’ve got a lot of old scrapped computers that contain disc drives of various kinds – DVD drives, CD-ROM drives, dual drives for floppies and CDs, or even plain old floppy drives - you could be looking at electronics scrap that is more valuable and worth recycling.

The value in those drives resides in the printed circuit boards that they contain, which hold small quantities of gold in the “fingers” at their edges where cables attach. Also, if you pull apart an older drive and find that it contains a large green circuit board with gold embossed on its surface, that could be worth something too.

The Bottom Line Is . . .

It is not worth extracting silver from CDs, DVDs, and other digital media. But if you have significant quantities of printed circuit boards of any kind, you could have something that will be worth sending to us for analysis and refining. Call 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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