How to Dispose of VHS tapes

How should we dispose of VHS tapes?

Although they have effectively been replaced with DVDs and digital movies, there are many many VHS tapes that need to be disposed of responsibly. For example, Denmark estimated in 2003 that twelve million tapes were sold a year in the small country alone. In the United States, a woman name Marion Stokes died, leaving behind 140,000 VHS tapes!

How Do I Dispose of VHS Tapes?


“Besides Styrofoam, which can sometimes be reused inside surfboards, videotapes might be the most difficult household item to recycle.” To put it succinctly, it takes a lot of work and processing to recycle a VHS tape, and VHSs are fairly worthless – no type of useful materials can be extracted from them. VHS tapes are composed of two parts – the plastic case and the black tape. If you separate the tape from the plastic case, you can toss that plastic case into your recycling bin with the rest of the plastics.

To get to the black tape, you must pry open the plastic case with a screw driver and remove the tape yourself. Disposing of the black tape is a different story than the plastic case. The inner cassette is made of polypropylen, or plastic number five. The magnetic tapes are composed of mylar and are often coated with toxic metals. If we were to allow these components to sit in our landfills, they would eventually contaminate the water and the soil. One thing you can do with this black tape is to use it in your garden as a “scare crow.” The black tape fluttering in the wind will scare any hungry birds away from stealing your seeds.

How to Dispose of VHS Tapes By Reusing Them

If figuring out how to dispose of VHS tapes is too challenging on your own, you can send your tapes to be recycled to companies such as “Green Disk.” They accept many types of e-waste, from iPods, to CD cases to many other items. Additionally, consider selling your tapes on Craigslist. That way you can rest easy knowing someone else will enjoy your CDs, and make some money on the side. Think about donating them to Goodwill. Goodwill is a country-wide chain thrift store that teaches disadvantaged community members job skills by accepting donations, selling them, and paying the members with the proceeds. Or, you could offer your tapes for free on Freecycle. Freecycle is a community group that anyone can join where people exchange offers and requests for used household objects and clothes. Simply Google Freecycle and join your local group. Post a message online saying that you have VHS tapes available, and usually within an hour, someone (or a few people!) will likely message you inquiring about taking them off of your hands.

Finally, there is a fantastic group called Alternative Community Training, or ACT, that helps disabled adults build job skills by showing them how to take apart and recycle VHS tapes. With the huge amount of VHS tapes laying around, we need to be thoughtful about how we dispose of VHS tapes.


Share this story

Post a comment