This DVD Will Self-Destruct

"This message will self-destruct in five seconds," goes the old Mission Impossible slogan. But are you interested in buying a DVD that self-destructs in 48 hours?

Staples is about to find out as it begins marketing Flexplay Entertainment's self-destructing DVD this month. It comes in a sealed pouch and will play for two days. Then it becomes a coaster. The disc plays on any DVD player and, if left sealed in the package, will survive for a year.

The first Flexplay titles will include There Will Be Blood, The Golden Compass, Transformers, Blades of Glory, Dreamgirls, The Kite Runner, and Semi-Pro. Price: $4.99, about the same as a full-price Blockbuster rental. And of course you needn't return the disc. Put it out with your plastic recyclables.

How does it work? A patented adhesive holds together the two halves of the disc. Remove the disc from the pouch and it will be exposed to oxygen, which eventually interferes with the laser's ability to read the disc. According to the Flexplay FAQ, "Flexplay has partnered with environmentally-friendly recyclers, plastics suppliers,and selected retailers to implement several closed-loop recycling options including consumer mail-in, pre-paid postage options and collection points through local environmental organizations."

Flexplay is also the first disc manufacturer to use recycled plastic: "Flexplay is working with its plastics suppliers to actually use recycled polycarbonate plastic--what the industry calls 're-grind'--to make Flexplay DVDs. If successful, Flexplay will be the first manufacturer to use 're-grind' to make optical discs and create a true closed-loop recycling program."

DVDs that work for a limited period are not a new idea. The notorious Divx came and went about a decade ago. Cooked up by Hollywood lawyers and Circuit City, it attracted widespread consumer outrage and quickly fizzled out. Apparently consumers like there to be clear lines between rental and buying. Tricky hybrids, Flexplay will likely find, are a no-go zone.

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