Do you have a bunch of old vinyl records you no longer want?
Perhaps the record are too warped or scratched to play anymore.
Perhaps you’ve grown to hate the music you used to love.
I know I cringe at the musical tastes of my younger self.
Whatever the reason, you have old vinyl you want to get rid of. And you know you shouldn’t just throw it in the trash, because they are horrible for the environment.
Luckily, you have a number of other options.
Keep reading to learn if you can recycle vinyl records, plus some other options for getting rid of them that are better. Some even result in a little extra money in your pocket.
Can You Recycle Vinyl Records?
No, vinyl records can not be recycled. They are composed of PVC and polyvinyl chloride. These materials are highly toxic and are not easily recycled.
Items are considered recyclable if they can be broken down or melted to create usable materials. Due to the chemical composition of vinyl records, they cannot be broken down into recyclable materials.
Burning polyvinyl chloride produces dioxins and furans which are extremely toxic to breathe in. As a result, vinyl records cannot be incinerated as a disposal method.
Vinyl records take over 100 years to decompose. Sending them to landfills is detrimental to the environment. The toxic chemicals in vinyl records are dangerous to throw out. Condemning them to landfills will hurt the local water and air.
Hazardous chemicals will leak into the soil and local water resources. These pollutants are dangerous to humans, wildlife, and plant life. Do not throw out vinyl records, until you have exhausted all other options for repurposing them.
The best options for getting rid of toxic vinyl records are to resell, repurpose, or upcycle them.
Upcycling Vinyl Records
There are numerous crafting and at-home projects that can repurpose vinyl records. The most popular options are to create home decor or jewelry out of the shiny black material. Home decor projects that best utilize vinyl records are:
- Small end tables
- Painted wall art
- Decorative platters
The perfectly round shape of vinyl records makes wonderful dreamcatchers. Simply drill holes into the bottom of the record to tie ropes into. Hot-glue gems and crystals to the record to create a unique design. There are many crafters on Etsy who sell upcycled vinyl records as dreamcatchers.
Vinyl records make excellent accent furniture pieces. Attach angled pin legs to the bottom of a vinyl record to create a retro end table. Applying light heat to the edges of the records will soften them. You can then mold the vinyl record into a decorative bowl or plate.
The shiny black of a vinyl record can make exquisite jewelry. Break the record into tiny shards. You can arrange these in intricate designs to create one-of-a-kind statement jewelry pieces. Vinyl does not discolor or tarnish. This makes them an ideal material for costume and statement jewelry.
Vinyl records are most commonly upcycled into clocks. Their round shape is easy to configure into a wall clock. Professional crafters cut the vinyl records into different shapes to create unique pieces of art. They mount battery-operated clock hands onto the vinyl to make the art into a functional timepiece.
Sell Vinyl Records
Even though vinyl record are relatively cheap to make, they have a decent resale value. Depending on the type of record and how rare it is, original albums can fetch high dollar amounts.
Go to eBay or Discogs to check the value of your record. This will ensure you are getting top value for your album. Certain volumes, like first pressings, are worth a lot of money. The most valuable vinyl records are:
- Wu-Tang Clan: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, sold for $2 million recently
- The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album), sold for $790,000
- Elvis Presley: My Happiness, sold for $300,000
- The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (signed by all four Beatles), sold for $290,000
- John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy, sold for $150,000
Discog is one of the most reputable online sellers of vinyl records. Use their sites’ inventory to determine whether or not you have vinyl records of value.
You can also sell or buy vinyl records directly on the Discog marketplace. Simply create an account and upload your vinyl record inventory.
There are several stores that sell vinyl records second-hand. Call around to places in your area to see if you have vinyl records that are of interest to them. Some stores will buy your collection outright. Others work on consignment. You will earn money as each record sells.
Even if your vinyl records are not of high value or rare, you can still sell them on Facebook or Craigslist. Crafters purchase lots of low-value vinyl records to upcycle.
There are several groups and communities on Facebook that specialize in the resales of records. Search for vinyl record groups. You can post what you have available.
Members will bid on your records. While the resale value may be minimal, it will keep them out of landfills and protect the environment.
Flea markets and garage sales are also good options to sell vinyl records. Box them up and sell them as a group. Resellers and crafters are more likely to buy bulk vinyl records as a group. Garage sales are a good option to sell a lot of vinyl records at one time.
Donate Vinyl Records
There are several non-profit institutions that will accept donations of vinyl records. Start with your town library. Many libraries have a catalog of vinyl records available for members to rent out. Most will accept donations to improve the variety of their collection.
Make a list of your vinyl records and consult the librarian. If anything of your collection is of interest to them, they will gladly accept a donation.
Schools may also have vinyl record collections. Call your school district and inquire about their requirements for vinyl record donations.
Donating your vinyl record collection is an excellent way to keep them out of landfills while contributing to your local community.
Plus, donations are tax deductible! This is a great way to earn a few extra dollars on your vinyl collection in terms of tax savings, even if they do not have value on the resale market.
Can I Recycle Vinyl Record Covers?
The cardboard covers vinyl records come in are recyclable. You can put these in your recycle bin. But you may not want to, if you have some that are works of art.
Unique ways to repurpose vinyl record covers include wall art and collages. Frame vinyl record covers and hang them on your walls as display pieces. These are inexpensive art displays that are easy to make and look great in media rooms and man caves.
Can Vinyl Records Be Recycled: Final Thoughts
You can’t recycle vinyl records and you should not put them in the garbage. That admittedly makes disposing of them a bit challenging.
Luckily, you do have a number of options that don’t involve storing them in your garage for all eternity. And many of them even end up with you making some money.
Of course, if you are trying to get rid of records you no longer want, chances are other people don’t want them either. But even if you can’t sell them to other record collectors, you can often sell them to artists who use them as their raw materials. Or you can donate them for a tax deduction.
If you’ve only got a few records to get rid of, many of these options obviously won’t be worth the effort. That’s why I keep them in a box until I have a large number of them and then find someone to take the whole lot off my hands.