How to Recycle and Reuse VHS Tapes

Since 2008 VHS tapes stopped being produce and VHS players have not been made after 2012. As the new technology like DVD and Streaming became more and more popular for movie formats, the golden days of VHS tapes are long gone.

Even if you are not a collector, chances are you can easily find some old VHS tapes and audio cassettes sitting forgotten in the corner of your house covered with dust. Sometimes a small number of them seem like a big problem if you can’t find a proper way to transfer old videotapes to DVD as they are so troublesome to recycle.

Like cassette tapes and other old media that are made of plastic, there are not a lot of places that recycle VHS tapes. It’s also tough to re-purpose them in households as they contain flammable material. Moreover, it costs more to break them down and make something out of them.

Materials Used to Make VHS Tapes

Two different types of plastics are used to produce VHS Tapes. The outer cassette is normally made of polypropylene, and the inside ribbon is made with Mylar, a type of polyethylene terephthalate. The ribbon is coated with iron oxide and other metals that are most hazardous. These materials are the main reasons why you cannot really reuse these because these plastics cannot be used to make something new out of them.

Why Should You Recycle VHS Tapes?

The Mylar plastic tape used inside is coated with metals that are hazardous waste. The rest is made with #5 plastic that takes centuries to degrade. So, you can’t simply throw the VHS Tapes into the plastic recycling bins or landfill.

If you throw them in a landfill, they will sit there for uncountable years, and over time the hazardous metal on the tape may leach into the ground. If they end up in the incinerator, they can release chemicals such as dioxins into the air we breathe. Make sure you choose the correct way if you are planning to recycle those.

Source: Statista

The volume of e-waste generated worldwide from 2010 to 2019 (in a million metric tons)

Our eco-system faces hazardous situations when e-waste ends up in landfill owing to the materials it contains. According to international studies, 70% of heavy metals in all landfill come from e-waste.

Recycling & Reusing VHS Tapes:

Hire an E-Waste Recycling Service

You can look for recycling services for video and audio tapes along with their cases; you can give away your VHS tapes to these companies. In some communities, VHS tapes are considered e-waste and can be recycled through the regular e-waste collection program.

Sell Your VHS Tapes for Money

If you don’t like the idea of recycling them, there are many collectors out there who are ready to buy all your old VHS tapes. Just put them on e-bay or sell them at garage sales and make some money out of them. You can also donate the classic tapes to the local library.

Other Recycling Methods of VHS Tapes

To recycle tapes responsibly, you first need to separate the pieces of them and then recycle each element in the following ways:

i. The shells are made of lower grade plastics; thus, these have minimal appeal on the polymer market. Still, these can return in the form of packaging and insulation.

ii. Screws and springs are much simpler to reuse once melted. The tape can also be used when mixed with other tapes – and be heated and moulded for use in rugged outdoor furniture and decking.

iii. VHS tapes were typically sold in cases of various kinds. Some were made of plastics, and some were of cardboard. The cardboard ones can easily be recycled, but plastic cases are more difficult.

You could research any communities who would like to reuse them, but if you cannot find one, you could always do something creative to reuse them – for instance storing electronics and stationery. Be sure you keep them away from the fire as they can be highly flammable.

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