rou listen to them on your stereo,
                             play them in your computer, or
                             watch movies on them. Compact
                             discs (CDs) and their faster
        cousin, digital video discs (DVDs) are everywhere! Only a
      few millimeters thick, they provide hours of entertainment
     and hold huge volumes of information.

   Do you ever stop to think about how CDs and
  DVDs are made, what materials are used, or what
 happens to these discs when you don't want them any
 more? Making products like CDs and DVDs consumes natural
resources, produces waste, and uses energy. By learning about
product life  cycles, you can find out how to reduce the environ-
mental impacts and natural resource use associated with
 products you use every day. When you understand these con-
 nections, you can  make better environmental  choices about
  the products you use, and how you dispose of them.

                          Follow the life cycle of a
                          CD or DVD on this
                              poster to learn more
                              about how these products
                              are made and  how you
                              can help reduce their
                             environmental impacts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A f
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The entire process of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               stamping a CD with
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               digital information
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               takes between 5 and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               10 seconds.
                                 Materials Acquisition
                                 CDs and DVDs are made from many different materials,
                                 each of which has its own separate life cycle involving ener-
                                 gy use and waste. They include:
                                 • Aluminum—the most abundant metal
                                  element in the Earth's crust. Bauxite
                                  ore is the main source of aluminum
                                  and is extracted from the Earth.
                                 • Polycarbonate—a type of plastic,
                                  which is made from crude oil and
                                  natural gas extracted from the Earth.
                                 • Lacquer—made of acrylic, another
                                  type of plastic.
                   • Gold—a metal
                    that is mined from the Earth.
                   • Dyes—chemicals made in a labora-
                    tory, partially from petroleum
                    products that come from the Earth.
                   • Other materials such as water,
                    glass, silver, and nickel.
                                                                                               Most mined materials must be processed before manufacturers
                                                                                               can use them to make CDs or DVDs. For example:
                                                                                               • Bauxite ore is processed into a substance called "alumina" by
                                                                                                washing, crushing, dissolving, filtering, and harvesting the
                                                                                                materials. Alumina is then turned into aluminum through a
                                                                                                process called "smelting." Then the metal is shaped, rolled,
                                                                                                or made into a cast.
                                                                                               • To make plastics, crude oil from the ground is combined
                                                                                                with natural gas and chemicals in a manufacturing or
                                                                                                processing plant.
More than 5.5 million
boxes of software go to
landfills and incinerators,
plus people throw away
millions of music CDs
each year!

The manufacturing process described here
is roughly the same for both CDs and DVDs.
• An injection molding machine creates the
 core of the disc—a 1 -millimeter thick piece
 of polycarbonate (plastic).
 Polycarbonate is melted and
 put in a mold. With several
 tons of pressure, a stamper
 embeds tiny indentations,
  or pits, with digital infor-
     mation into the plastic
        mold. A CD-play-
          er's laser reads
            these pits
             when play-
               ing a CD.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           • The plastic molds then go through the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "metallizer" machine, which coats the CDs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            with a thin metal     _^^^^^^^^^^^^
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            reflective layer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (usually aluminum)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            through a process
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            called "sputtering."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The playback laser
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            reads the informa-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            tion off of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            reflective alu-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            minum surface.

                                                                    Reuse,  Recycling
                                                                    or Disposal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               In 1983, when CDs were
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               introduced in the United
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               States, 800,000 discs were
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               sold.  By 1990, this number
                                                                                                                                                                                                             Every month approxi-
                                                                                                                                                                                                             mately 100,000 pounds
                                                                                                                                                                                                             of CDs become obsolete
                                                                                                                                                                                                             (outdated, useless, or
  Purchasing  Decisions

      You constantly make decisions about buying products.  One
      of your decisions probably involves weighing how much y
      want a product against how much it costs. This poster pro
  vides  information to help you become a more environmentally
  aware consumer by describing the materials and energy con-
  sumption required to make CDs and DVDs. You should factor this
  information into your buying  decisions and understand that nearly
  all of your choices have some environmental trade-offs. You
  might also want to consider whether the information you think
  you need on disc is  actually available on the Internet.  If it is, you;
  might not need to buy the disc at all!  Thinking about these issues
  will make you a more informed consumer and will help you make
  decisions that help to protect and  preserve our environment.
  Designing  for the

      For a product to come into existence, it must be designed.
      And that design can have as much of an impact on the envi-
      ronment as any other step in a products life cycle. For
  example, designers can plan for a product to be easily made
  from recycled materials, thus reducing the need to mine or gather
  raw materials. Most industries, including high-tech industries,
  have developed voluntary standards that many manufacturers fol-
  low when designing and manufacturing new products. These
  standards help make products as environmentally sound as is
  technologically possible. These standards also change as rapidly
  developing new technologies become available.
• Minor scratches can be repaired by
 rubbing a mild abrasive (such as
 toothpaste) on the non-label side
 of a disc in a circular motion from
                                               Useful   Life
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • The CD then
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        receives a layer of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       lacquer as a pro-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      tective coating
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      against scratching
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      and corrosion.
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Most CDs are screen
                                                                                                                                                                                             printed with one to five
                                                                                                                                                                                             different colors for a
                                                                                                                                                                                              decorative label. Screen
                                                                                                                                                                                               printing involves the
                                                                                                                                                                                                use of many
                                                                                                                                                                                                 materials, including
                                                                                                                                                                                                  stencils, queegees,
                                                                                                                                                                                                   and inks.
CDs and DVDs are created with
materials that are extremely stable.
If properly stored and handled,
most discs will last for decades—
and probably centuries. Certain
  conditions, such as high humidity,
    or extended periods of high
     temperatures, rapid temperature changes, and expo-
        sure to certain types of light, can damage discs and
          shorten their useful life. Taking care of your discs
            by keeping  them out of direct sunlight and
               away from heat and water will help them
                 last longer. Not only will you save
                     money, but you will also reduce the
                         discs' environmental impacts
                             by preventing waste.

                                                                                                                                  Once discs are packaged, they are
                                                                                                                                  ready to be sent to distribution centers,
                                                                                                                                  retail outlets, or other locations.
                                                                                                                                  Transportation by plane, truck, or rail
                                                                                                                                  requires the use of fossil fuels for ener-
                                                                                                                                  gy, which contribute to climate change.

                                                                                      CDs and DVDs are packaged in
                                                                                      clear or colored plastic cases
                                                                                      (jewel cases) or cardboard
                                                                                      boxes—that are then covered
                                                                                      with plastic shrink wrap. This
                                                                                      packaging can be made from
                                                                                      recycled or raw materials. For
                                                                                      example, the plastic used can
                                                                                      be from recycled bottles or from
                                                                                      crude oil and natural gas extracted from the
                                                                                      Earth and combined with chemicals.

Why  Are  Product  Life

Cycles  Important?

Each day, we use hundreds of products: clothes, shoes, books,
newspapers, notebook paper, CD/DVD players, video games,
cell phones, and TVs. Have you ever thought about what these
products are made of, where their parts come from, or what
happens to them when we're finished with them? Have you
ever thought about the impact each of the products we use has
on our environment?

Looking at a product's life cycle helps us understand the connec-
tions between the Earth's natural resources, energy use, climate
change, and waste. Product life cycles focus on the processes
involved in the entire production system—from extracting and
processing raw materials, through the product's final use by
consumers, recyclers, and disposers.  By learning about product
life cycles, we can see where and how everyone can collaborate
to reduce the environmental impacts  and natural resource use
associated with a product. When we understand these connec-
tions, we can be better environmental stewards.
What  Is  a  Life  Cycle?

Just as living things are born, get older, and die, products also
have a life cycle. Each stage of a product's development affects
our environment in different ways—from the way we use products
to the quantities of products we buy. Similarly, what we do with a
product when we are finished with it has environmental effects.

The stages of a product's life cycle usually include:

Design: Engineers, designers, manufacturers, and others get
ideas for products and then have to manufacture them. Most
product designs are researched and tested before they are
mass-produced. A product's initial design affects each stage of
its  life cycle, and therefore, its impact on our environment. For
example, products designed to be reused instead of thrown out
prevent waste and conserve natural resources.

Materials Acquisition: Whether man-made or naturally occurring,
all  products are made from some raw materials. "Virgin" materials,
such as trees or iron ore, are directly harvested or mined from the
Earth, which causes climate change, uses large amounts of energy,
and depletes our natural resources. Making new products from
materials that were used in another product—known as recycled or
recovered materials—can reduce pollution, energy use, and the
amount of raw materials we need to take from the Earth. For exam-
ple, using recycled steel products instead of mining virgin iron ore
saves 1,400 pounds of coal, 120 pounds of limestone, and enough
energy to power more than 18 million homes for one yearl

Materials Processing: Once  materials are extracted from the
Earth, they must be converted into a form that can be used to
make products. For example, trees contribute the wood from
which paper is made. The wood is made into paper from sever-
al different manufacturing processes. Each separate process
creates waste and consumes energy. For example, making one
ton of recycled paper uses 64 percent less energy and 50 per-
cent less water; reduces air pollution by 74 percent; saves 1 7
trees; and creates five times more jobs than manufacturing one
ton of paper products from virgin wood pulp.

Manufacturing: Products are made in factories that use a
great deal of energy. Manufacturing processes also create
waste and often contribute to global climate change. Glass bev-
erage containers, for example, can be  used an infinite number
of times, over and over again. More than 41 billion glass con-
tainers  are made each year; recycling only one of those saves
enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours. Imagine
the energy savings from recycling all 41 billion containers.
What's more, making 1 ton of glass from 50 percent recycled
materials saves 250 pounds of mining  waste.

Packaging: Many products are packaged in paper or plastic,
which also undergo  separate manufacturing processes that use
energy and consume natural resources. While packaging can
serve several important functions, such as preventing tamper-
ing, providing information, and preserving hygienic integrity
and freshness, sometimes packaging is excessive.

Distribution: Manufactured products are transported in trucks,
planes, trains,  and ships to different locations where they are
sold. Materials and parts used to make products are also trans-
ported to different places at earlier stages in the life cycle. All of
these forms of transportation use energy and generate green-
house gases, which contribute to global climate change.

Use: The way products are used impacts our environment.
Reusable, durable, and recyclable products conserve natural
resources, use  less energy, and create less waste than dispos-
able, single-use products. For example, fluorescent lamps
reduce energy consumption because they are four to five times
more efficient than incandescent bulbs. Reducing energy use
also cuts down on power plant emissions that contribute to
global climate change, acid rain, and smog.  Properly caring
for products also increases their useful  life, so remember to
read and follow the  cleaning, operating, and maintenance
instructions for the products you own—especially tires on your
bicycles and other vehicles.

Reuse/Recycling: Recycling or remanufacturing products into new
ones saves energy and reduces the amount of raw materials that
have to be used in the manufacturing process. When products are
reused or recycled, their life does not end; instead, it becomes a
continuous cycle. For example, one pound of recycled paper can
make six new cereal  boxes, and five recycled soda bottles can
make enough fiber fill to stuff a ski jacket.

Disposal: Throwing  products in the trash ends their useful life.
We simply lose these valuable resources outright. If we recycled
all our morning newspapers, we could save 41,000 trees a day,
and we could keep 6 million tons of waste out of landfills.
Crafty  CDs and  Designer
Do you own CDs or DVDs that you don't use anymore?
Does your family receive software CDs in the mail that
you don't want or need? Instead of throwing  these discs
away, why not use them to create something fun for
yourself or a gift for a friend?
For a simple sun
• Two discs (CDs or DVDs)
• Fine fishing line or thread
• Glue or Tape

1. Cut the thread or fishing
  line to the length you want,
  and glue to the printed side
  of one disc.
2. Wth more glue or double-
  sided tape, stick the two discs
  together, shiny sides out.
3. Hang in a sunny window
  and enjoy the beautiful col-
  ors of the prism.
  At least six CDs or DVDs
  Three to six feet of strong
  cord (a dark color is best)
  A stopper like a washer for
  the suncatcher, or bell for the
  windchime - larger than the
  diameter of the hole in the
  CD - for each pair of discs.
                         1. Glue or tape each pair of
                           discs together (be sure to
                           leave the hole open). If you
                           are going to hang your cre-
                           ation outside, use
                           weatherproof glue or adhe-
                         2. Thread a stopper (or bell)
                           onto the line, and secure it
                           about 1 inch from one end
                           with a sturdy knot.
                         3. Thread the first pair of CDs
                           onto the line so that it rests
                           on top of the stopper (or
                         4. Thread another stopper (or
                           bell) onto the line about 1
                           inch from the CDs and
                           secure with a sturdy knot.
                         5. Repeat step 3 and 4 at
                           intervals of about 3-5 inch-
                           es, or whatever looks good
                           to you.
                         6. Hang your creation by a
                           window and enjoy!
            Drink Coasters
      You will need:
    • Four discs (CDs or DVDs)
   • Self-stick felt (to keep the coasters from
 sliding) about 1/4 inch in diameter. You
 can buy felt this size or buy bigger pieces
and cut them down.

1. If need be, cut the felt into small round pieces about 1/4
 inch in diameter.
 2. Turn over the discs so the shiny side is facing down and
  the printed side towards you.
    3. Stick 8 pieces of felt evenly spread around the disc
     4. Turn the disc back over and place your glass
       or bowl on your new coaster.
                                                                                                             Organize CD/DVD
                                                                                                             Reuse  Events
                                                                                                             • Set up a CD/DVD Swap Day at School
                                                                                                             • Create a library devoted to CD/DVD-sharing
                                                                                                             • Organize a CD/DVD recycling collection for community
                                                                                                               service or fund-raising projects
                                                       Cycle  Scramble
                                                       Use the clue provided to help you unscramble the fc
                                                        T. RINGIV        Recycling products reduces the arr
                                                        &TA             Reducing

                                                        4. FILE LYCE     A product1
                                                                                     f a product can preven
                                  ; an important goal of understanding a produ
                                                         & LATURNA     Products are made fr<

                                                        & DIGENS      The         ofa
 7.                Making a product wit

 :S, SCIDESION   Making informed
 9.EDTAXTEK     Raw

                                                                                                           eral stages, including design
                                                                                                         s its affect on the environment.
                                                                                                               reduces its impact on the environment.
                                                     ng products can help pre
) make products have to be
                                    om the Earth, which creates po
The Big  Debate:  Reuse,
Recycle,  or Dispose?

CDs and DVDs are complicated products, which makes
recycling or disposing of them just as complicated. This
activity examines options for reusing, recycling, or dispos-
ing of CDs and DVDs at the end of their useful life. It can
be a research project for individuals or assigned to teams
for discussion.

1. What are some end-of-life options for CDs/DVDs? List the
  options and discuss the pros and cons of each.
                                                       2. Give a rough estimate of how long the components of a
                                                         CD/DVD would last in a landfill. Use the chart below as a

                                                             Banana/orange peel
                                                             Aluminum can
                                                             Plastic bottle
                                                          .   Glass bottle
                          2-5 weeks
                          1 year
                          up to 50 years
                          80-100 years
                          100-200 years
                          1,000,000 years

                                                        3. Find out what CD/DVD manufacturers, recyclers, and local
                                                          authorities have to say about end-of-life options for
                                                          • Conduct Internet research or call the company that pro-
                                                            duced your CD/DVD. Find out what it considers to be the
                                                            useful life of the CD/DVD. Ask what the policy is for accept-
                                                            ing its CDs/DVDs back for recycling or remanufacturing.
                                                          • Find out what your school does with its CDs/DVDs at the
                                                            end of their useful life.
                                                          • Contact a  local recycling center and ask if it accepts old
                                                          • Contact a  CD/DVD recycler to learn about its recycling
                                                            practices and what products are made from recycled
                                                          • Contact your local waste management agency and ask
                                                            what its policy is regarding discarded CDs/DVDs.
                                                        4. After conducting this research, write a summary of your find-
                                                          ings, including who you contacted, the date, and what
                                                          information you obtained. Or, present the results to your
                                                          classmates and discuss what you view to be a good end-of-
                                                          life choice for CDs/DVDs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scavenaer Hunt
Look around your home for the following life
cycle-related items. Check off each item as you find it -
how many can you find?

  This symbol stands for a type of plastic that
  can often be recycled and  made into carpet-
  ing, automobile bumpers,  or insulation for   ^ 1
  ski coats and sleeping bags.
  Item that you use at least three times before throwing it out.

  Item made from four different materials (e.g. wood, steel,
  plastic, aluminum, copper)

  Recycling bin.

  Something that can be composted—meaning it can
  break down, or decompose, into soil.
  Besides a CD, an item you can donate to charily instead of
  throwing away when you no longer want to use it.

  A product made from recycled paper.

  A product with excess packaging.
  This symbol stands for a type of plastic that can
  be recycled and made into traffic cones, toys,
  and laundry detergent containers.             HOPE

  An item that is biodegradable—capable of being used as
  food by other living things and eventually gets turned
  into soil.

  Reusable container—can be used over and over again to
  store food or other items. It has a long, useful life.

  Item that you use once and then throw out.

  A plastic, paper, and canvas bag. Which of these has the
  longest useful lifespan?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               A product made from recycled glass.
                                                                                                              *2ou        Cent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Life Cycle Web Sites
                                                       U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Product Stewardship
                                                       Explains the life cycle environmental impacts of products.

                                                       U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Engineering Program
                                                       Advocates designing products with their entire life cycle in mind.

                                                       U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Design for the Environment

                                                       United Nations Environment Programme, Life Cycle Initiative

                                                       Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Life Cycle
                                                       Assessment Advisory Group

                                                       American Plastics Council
                                                       "Life Cycle of a Plastic Product"
                                                       www.plasti csresource.com/disposa l/life_cycle_feature

                                                       The Steel Recycling Institute
                                                       "Steel Recycling Life Cycle"
                                                       (Go to "Educarion," "Community Activity Shears/ "Steel Recycling Lite Cy-le")
                                                                            Other Life  Cycle Materials

                                                                            "The Life Cycle of Everyday Stuff" (curriculum and poster)
                                                                            National Science Teachers Association
                                                                            1840 Wilson Boulevard
                                                                            Arlington, VA 22201

                                                                            "The Quest for Less: A Teacher's Guide to Reducing,
                                                                            Reusing, Recycling."
                                                                            Unit 1:  Product Life Cycles,
                                                                            U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste.
                                                                            www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/kids/quest/unit-l .htm
                                                                            To order: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/pub-q.htm or call
                                                                            800 424-9346.

                                                                            "A Web-Based Course Module on Automobile Recycling."
                                                                            Chapter 4: Closing the Loop.
                                                                            Georgia Institute of Technology's Environmentally Conscious Design
                                                                            mimel .marc.gatech.edu/courseware/auto2/Default.htm

                                                                            "The Life of a Hamburger: Play the Hamburger Game!"
                                                                            (Covers paper and plastic packaging)
                                                                            The Plastic Bag Association

                                                                            Recycling Loop Poster: "Where Does Your Homework Go?"
                                                                            American Forest and Paper Association/Project Learning Tree
                                                                            Order at no cost at www.afandpa.org/kids_educators/index.html
                                                                            (Click on "Teacher Tools'--, "Recycling Loop Poster''-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                CD/DVD Recycling  Web Sites

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Compact Disc Recycling Resources
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The National Recycling Coalition, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This page provides a list of all the companies that
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                recycle or remanufacture CDs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Go to the drop-down menu on the home page entitled,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "How Do I Recycle?/- then go to CD-ROMs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Plug-in to Recycling Program
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                EPA, in partnership with Best Buy, AT&T Wireless, Dell, Panasonic,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sony, Sharp, Recycle America (part of Waste Management, Inc.), and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                nxtcycle,  is helping consumers of electronic products tap into a net-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                work of recycling opportunities nationwide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sony's CD Recycling Web page
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                www.sony.co.jp/en/Sonylnfo/Environment/ecoplaza/ recycle_c.html

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                AuralTech CD Refinishing Specialists

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                GreenDisk Recycled Disks Web page
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Green Disk's mission is to create recycled products from obsolete soft-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ware. The company primarily accepts old CDs from corporations.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -icy Response