Can You Recycle VHS Tapes?

As people become more eco-conscious and serious about disposing of their things in an environmentally friendly manner, you might be wondering what to do with your old VHS tapes.

While you may be able to sell some classic VHS copies of films on eBay, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to shift those home VHS tapes of family moments once you’ve backed them up with a video to DVD conversion.

So, if you can’t give them away or sell them, can VHS tapes be recycled?

In short, no, they can’t. Not really. But why? And is there anything else you can do with them rather than just throwing them away?

Guys Confused What to Do with VHS Tapes

Why are VHS Tapes Difficult to Recycle?

The reason you can’t just pop VHS tapes in the plastic recycling along with bottles and punnets is that they are composed of too many different components. Significantly, the tape itself is made from mylar (polyethylene terephthalate), a plastic which is coated with chromium, iron oxide and other metals.

This makes the tape hazardous waste, which is not dangerous so long as it doesn’t break down. However, if they get dumped in a landfill, those metals will eventually leach out and potentially contaminate the surrounding water and soil.

What Else Can You Do with Old VHS Tapes?

So, if they can’t be recycled, and they shouldn’t just be chucked away, what else can you do with them?

  • Sell/donate them

Most charity shops no longer take VHS tapes, but it’s worth asking around and seeing if anywhere will. If you have blank tapes or tapes of films, stick them on eBay or sites like Freegle and see if an avid collector will take them, or even artists looking to create something with VHS components.

  • Search for recycling organisations

While recycling centres may not take them, you should try doing a local search to see if you have an organisation near you that will. Some independent companies will accept non-recyclable items like VHS tapes to try and salvage useful components. Companies like GreenDisk allow you to send your VHS tapes to them, where they will recover reusable components and recycle the rest.

  • Upcycle them

If you can’t recycle them, try upcycling. Upcycling is similar to recycling, but rather than breaking something down into its raw components, you instead use it to create something new, putting it to good use.

Upcycling VHS Tapes

Here are some of the incredible things you could create with old VHS tapes:

  • Furniture

Check out this fantastic cabinet that has been constructed almost entirely out of VHS tapes. Ironically, it’s being used to house the VHS tape’s successor: DVDs. With those wheels on the bottom and a stylish glass top, it’s certainly a piece that would fit perfectly into a home that thrives on nostalgia.

  • Shelves

These shelves are each made from just four VHS tapes and make a powerful impact against this blank wall. A great way to find a use for those VHS tapes and create more space in your home.

  • Wall art

Check out this incredible creation: a Space Invader alien made entirely out of VHS tapes. It creates a wonderfully artistic and nostalgia-inducing piece of art. Think of all the different patterns and imaginative creations you could build with VHS tapes alone.

  • Birdboxes

These birdboxes are certainly a creative way to use up VHS tapes and their plastic boxes, too. With just a few tapes you can create a cosy looking place for birds to rest – just make sure you remove the tape from inside them first.

  • Purses

You wouldn’t think that VHS tapes could make fashion accessories, but these adorable Disney-themed purses prove that not to be the case. Using the plastic cases that came with these VHS releases, you can make something truly unique while showing off your love for your favourite films.

  • Accessories

So, we’ve covered the boxes, but what about the tape itself? Well, the tape can be used to create its own unique pieces. Take these adorable flowers that have been attached to a bag. You wouldn’t know they were made from the tape inside a VHS cassette, would you?

  • Light fixtures

How about this funky light shade made from VHS tapes? It would certainly fit any room trying to create a retro theme.

  • Jewellery

Finally, why not get crafty and create your very own unique VHS tape jewellery? Just look at this adorable bracelet made from the magnetic tape and a few buttons. It’s certainly an original piece that helps to prevent non-recyclable tape ending up in the landfill.

We hope we’ve inspired you to try and find ways to ensure those old VHS tapes are appropriately disposed of or re-used. If you have any old tapes of formats such as VHS-C, Video8 and Hi8 that you still need to back up, contact us today to find out about our VHS conversions. We can convert your videos to DVDs, digital formats and MP4 files.