Video Tape Recycling: How to Properly Dispose of Old VHS Tapes

Stack of VHS tapes being recycled

We do not accept VHS tapes or other magnetic media at this time.

During the 1980s and mid-1990s, VHS tapes were the dominant home video format in the world. Then gave rise to DVDs, followed by their 1080-pixel high-definition successors, Blu-ray. By now, many people have re-purchased their favorite films in a higher quality format and currently have a plethora of old VHS tapes that are only gathering dust.

So, what can you do with these old tapes? From recycling to reselling, you have quite a few options, all of which are better than just tossing them into the trash. 

Electronic waste like VHS tapes contains a mix of potentially harmful substances and other materials that, if not properly collected and recycled, could cause further harm to our fragile environment. In addition to being toxic to our soil, water, and air, e-waste is also highly regulated from state to state. 

Although we here at High Tech Recycling do not recycle VHS tapes at this time, let’s take a closer look at safe VHS tape disposal practices, including video tape recycling. 

Recyclable Components of a VHS Tape

Many people don’t realize that their old VHS tapes have several parts that can be recycled quickly and easily. These include components like the casing, primarily made of No. 5 plastic, sometimes called polypropylene or PP.

However, the Mylar tape on the inside is a different story. It is made of No. 1 plastic, which has also been coated in a variety of metals, including chromium. In most situations, this is the part of the VHS tape that cannot be recycled and reused.

How to Recycle Your Old Tapes

A few VHS-cassettes in the recycling bin

First, look online for a local recycling center. Ask if they accept VHS tapes.  If you take them to a recycling and waste center that isn’t properly equipped to handle VHS tapes, they will most likely end up in a landfill. 

If a standard recycling center cannot handle VHS tapes, your next step would be to find an e-waste recycler in your area.

During the recycling process, the tapes are shredded, and the materials are separated by water or magnets. Components that can be reused will be saved, while components (like the Mylar tape) that cannot will be properly disposed of in a safe manner that does not cause further harm to the environment.

As an aside, if you’re not talking about commercial VHS tapes and are instead talking about family videos, consider converting them to DVDs or digital files. You can purchase equipment that will transfer whatever is on the tape to a digital file so you will always have it. Likewise, there are businesses in your area that will perform this same service for a fee. 

Alternative to Recycling

If you can’t find a recycling center that offers video tape recycling services, know that you have other options!

For starters, go through your collection and see if you have anything valuable you can sell on the Internet. Although VHS is lower quality when compared to Blu-ray or 4K UHD, there are still people out there who collect them. Certain releases of films may have versions that never made it past the VHS phase of home media. Likewise, rare releases are worth a lot of money. One VHS copy of a film recently sold for over $80,000 at auction, though this was admittedly a unique situation.

You can also donate old tapes to a local Goodwill or similar organization. Just because you no longer have any use for them doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

Finally, consider the fact that many people repurpose old VHS tapes for art pieces or similar projects. 

Where To Recycle Old VHS Tapes

While recycling VHS tapes is important for environmental sustainability, it’s important to note that High Tech Recycling currently does not have the capacity to process these materials.

However, this doesn’t mean your old tapes have to end up in a landfill. For responsible disposal options, we encourage you to visit Earth911’s comprehensive recycling directory at Here, you can find local recycling solutions where you can ask if they accept VHS tapes, and ensure that your VHS tapes are handled in an environmentally responsible manner.

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