Do you have boxes full of old VHS tapes taking up space around your home? Well, it’s not a good idea to just throw them away, which is why we put together this guide on how to dispose of old VHS tapes properly.
With over 20 years of experience not only digitizing videotapes, but splicing, cleaning, and repairing them, Capture knows the industry better than anyone. With our guide, you’ll clear up more storage space in the most environmentally friendly way possible!
Keep reading to learn why you shouldn’t just throw away VHS tapes, how to dispose of them properly, recycling and donating options, and how to repurpose videotapes for other uses.
- Why Can't You Just Throw Away VHS Tapes?
- Recycling VHS Tapes
- Donating Old VHS Tapes
- Repurposing VHS Tapes
Why Can't You Just Throw Away VHS Tapes?
There are tons of VHS tapes still around since after the VHS vs Beta format war, VHS videotapes dominated the market for years. However, since they don’t make VCRs anymore, you might want to get rid of your old analog tapes, but you shouldn’t just throw them into the trash.
The outer plastic case of videotapes is technically recyclable because it’s made from #5 plastic, or polypropylene. Unfortunately, some of the inner workings are made with toxic metals and other harmful substances.
That’s because VHS tapes and other old video camera tapes like Betamax, Hi8, and MiniDV work by storing data on magnetic tape. This magnetic tape is made from a phthalate form of plastic called polyethylene, or Mylar.
This makes it hard to recycle old tapes because the substance can release toxic metals like chromium into landfills and, eventually, into the environment. Therefore, VHs tapes are considered electronic waste, or e-waste. Because of this, you need to seek other options for how to dispose of old VHS tapes appropriately.
The options for disposing of VHS tapes safely are recycling, donating, and repurposing, read on to learn the steps for each of these methods!
Recycling VHS Tapes
You can recycle VHS tapes as well as VCR players, Hi8 tape players, Betamax machines, and audio cassette players. You might be able to find a recycling center in your area that provides these types of e-waste recycling services, but there are other options as well.
For example, GreenDisk offers recycling bins designed specifically for electronics recycling that you can fill up with videotapes, VHS players, laptops, CDs, cell phones, vintage camcorders, and all sorts of other electronics that contain magnetic tape, lithium-ion batteries, and other materials that are harmful to the environment.
If you want to know where to donate VHS tapes without spending any money, some Best Buy locations offer local recycling programs with in-store drop off bins. This is one of the best ways to dispose of old VHS tapes due to their accessibility and affordability.
However, they aren’t free and charge $119.95 for a techno trash can that holds up to 100 pounds of recyclable electronics. You can also use Recycle Nation to search for recycling services with drop-off in your area. Additionally, search Earth911 for more resources about proper recycling for old cassette tapes and electronics.
If these aren’t viable options for you, no worries! You can also think about other methods for how to dispose of old VHS tapes like reuse, donating, or repurposing.
Donating Old VHS Tapes
If you really don’t know what to do with old VHS tapes and can’t find a good recycling center for old electronics near you, then donating might be the best option.
Some businesses might want to buy and resell your VHS tapes or home video cassettes. Others might want to digitize the footage for historical purposes. Finally, there might be collectors in your area who’re looking for the specific VHS tapes that you’re trying to get rid of.
Check Goodwill or other thrift stores in your area to see if they sell VHS tapes. Even if they don’t, some of these locations might have an easy way to recycle them. Antique and vintage shops that sell vinyl records, 8-track tapes, old books, or other vintage technology might even be interested in paying you for your VHS tapes.
You can also check the Freecycle Network, which is a nonprofit community of people who give stuff away and share it with each other. You might be able to get rid of your hazardous waste while also finding furniture, electronics, purses, or other materials that other people in your area are getting rid of!
Finally, you can sell or give away your old electronics online. Try sites like eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to give away or sell your VHS tapes. You can also post your VHS equipment like a VCR for sale or an old video camera for trade.
Repurposing VHS Tapes
If you can’t find VHS tape recycling programs in your area and don’t have an easy way to donate your VHS tapes, you can repurpose VHS tapes. There are tons of fun and functional DIY projects with old VHS tapes like creating lamps, using the tape to create weaved belts or sashes, or using a VHS tape case as a tape.
This can create unique nostalgic aesthetics while also reducing the environmental impact of VHS tape disposal. Another option is to use your old videotapes to learn VHS tape repair that you can use as a local service to offer to your community or online.
There are tons of other great ideas for what to do with old VHS tapes including VHS tape mosaics, tape jewelry, VHS picture frames, plant hangers, jump ropes, notebook covers, wall hangings, and much more. Get creative with it and use all the different components of your VHS tape. You might even be able to turn the tapes into thoughtful presents for dad, mom, brother, sister, or friend.
Even if you just use the magnetic tape, then you might be able to easily recycle the VHS case without having to find an electronics recycling service. You can also check Pinterest for more ideas about what you can do with old VHS tapes.
However, don’t forget the intended use, which is watching the VHS tape content. If you don’t know how to watch old video camera tapes, you can get an old camcorder or VCR, or use a digitizing service like Capture to preserve the content in digital format. That way you can watch your most precious memories and home videos on your phone, computer, or social media.
Now that you know how to dispose of old VHS tapes, you can share this old VHS tape disposal guide with loved ones to support environmentally friendly recycling, reuse, and donations. To sum up the disposal options, you can recycle with a local or online e-waste recycling program, donate to local shops or collectors, or get creative by making something new out of your old analog tapes.
Regardless of what option you choose, we recommend preserving the memories contained in your old tapes first. Capture offers professional digitization services that can transfer all videotape formats into high-quality digital copies using specialized equipment. Click here to learn about our video transfer services!