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Tin snips work well for cutting them up.
But something more permanent, like burning them, is probably a major
environmental hazard. I know I wouldn't want to be breathing anywhere
around them while they're on fire!
It'd be nice if a random signal could be burned over existing data, thus
making it unreadable, but I don't think that can be done easily.
Still, if you just want to throw them away where do you throw them?
Now to read other contributors answers...
Mal

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Trey Bunn wrote:

> This may be an odd question considering that it's pretty much the
> opposite of what most of us normally do, but I was wondering if anyone
> had any tips on how to destroy a CD-R.  Say, for example, you had a CD
> (data or audio) with sensitive material on it that you didn't want to
> just throw in the trash and hope that no one ever found it and played
> it.  Yes, I know that ending up in a landfill wouldn't do it any good,
> but that wouldn't necessarily make it unplayable.  I'm reminded of a
> huge lot of cassettes that my brother and I found in a dump around
> 1980 that we took home to record over, and we found that they were
> recordings of some kind of courtroom cases, probably stuff we never
> should have heard.  We were too young to be interested in them and
> just recorded over them (I still have some of those same tapes, and
> yes, they still play), but still, whoever just chucked them in the
> trash was being rather sloppy, I'd think.
>
> So anyway, back to the CD problem.  Last night I tried to break one in
> half, thinking that since it was plastic, it would snap in two if bent
> hard enough, but no.  The thing was nearly impossible to break.  I
> tried using a cabinet door for leverage, but that still didn't bend it
> enough to break.  I did manage to warp the surface and the inner gold
> layer enough that its data probably wouldn't be recoverable, but the
> more trouble it gave me, the more I began to wonder if any of you guys
> out there had a specific procedure in place for getting rid of CDs
> other than just chucking them.  I also tried cutting it in half with
> some needle-nose pliers and taking a lighter to the writeable surface,
> and while this did some damage, it still wasn't what I'd consider the
> data equivalent of using a paper shredder.  Certainly not efficient or
> easy, either.
>
> Any thoughts?  And no, before anyone thinks I have a CD full of super
> secret scary government files or something, don't worry.  It was just
> a back-up of personal correspondence and journal entries that I didn't
> need anymore (I made a more updated back-up).  I know this isn't
> specifically a recorded sound-related question, but it could be, you
> know, if one were to have a recording on CD-R like the ones I
> described above.
>