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Finding new homes for old books and CDs is proving a winner for St. Paul start-up


DVDs are being replaced by Netflix, CDs by iTunes, and even books are under threat from Kindles, so where do you go to get rid of possessions that are now considered out of date?

That was the question posed to Fargo city recycling coordinator Jennifer Pickett, who turned to St. Paul-based company A Greener Read for the answer, Inforum reports.

Pickett was picketed by residents who wanted a place to recycle their old books, and asked A Greener Read to set up a pilot project that has seen four 24-hour recycling bins for books, video games, DVDs and CDs put in place around the city, the newspaper says.

A Greener Read is extending its reach to Fargo following the success it has had with the recycling bins it placed in St. Paul, several Minneapolis suburbs including Roseville, Wayzata and Coon Rapids, and in western Wisconsin, according to its website.

But the for-profit's primary objective isn't to recycle the donations, but to ensure they continue their usefulness by selling donated items on Amazon and other re-sale websites. Those that don't sell are donated to other charities, while only broken or unsalable items are recycled.

The pilot bins in Fargo have been placed at Family Fare stores on 7th Avenue North and University Drive, and Cash Wise stores on 13th Avenue South, Osgood and Shanley, according to Inforum. A fifth is planned for the CVS parking lot in 19th Avenue North.

The company argues that donating items through A Greener Read is better than taking it down to the local thrift store, as they will try to sell the goods through multiple sources such as websites and not-for-profit partners.

This is as opposed to thrift stores that it says may recycle items that don't sell on the shelf, with donors having little control over how their old items are re-used.

How do you safely recycle CDs and DVDs?

CDs and DVDs are made out of plastic but are considered electronic waste and as such should not be put in with regular trash, according to the Chicago Tribune. But the newspaper notes that this is still preferable to putting it in with your recycling, as this results in contamination at recycling plants.

Even taking them to the local recycling center won't always work, with The New York Times reporting that not all centers will accept them alongside other plastic waste like bottles.

But residents of Minneapolis do have the option of taking their old disks to their local household waste and recycling facility, after Hennepin County added the items to its list of recyclables in 2011, according to MPR.

The Times also points people looking to recycle their disks in the direction of companies such as the CD Recycling Center of America or Greendisk, though you have to pay a small shipping fee to send them off.

Closer to home, Minneapolis electronics giant Best Buy offers a recycling service for old books, CDs and DVDs, as well as a whole host of other electronic goods including computers, e-readers, cameras and cellphones.

Some people avoid the middle-men altogether and recycle the disks themselves, with Pinterest filled with examples of people turning CDs and DVDs into furniture and artwork.

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