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Because You Asked

How Do I Recycle My VHS Tapes?

By Recyclebank |

Even though VHS tapes passed out of wide use years ago, we’re still unearthing them from forgotten corners of our houses.

Dear Recyclebank,

How do I recycle my VHS tapes? I live in Massachusetts and I’m not sure which, if any, thrift stores will take these.

-Karen S., Canton, MA


Dear Karen,

Some thrift stores still accept VHS tapes, and it does look like Goodwill centers in Massachusetts take them. You could also try donating them to your local library. However, it’s true that the market for tapes is dwindling away to nonexistence. It can’t be too long before thrift stores stop accepting them.

As for recycling tapes, it’s tricky. They contain several kinds of materials, including multiple types of plastic, the numbers of which aren’t usually indicated. Even if you knew which components were recyclable, disassembly would be required, which would be problematic if you are trying to get rid of a large number of tapes. Your best option for recycling them is to send them to GreenDisk, an e-cycling company based in Washington. They remove the Mylar magnetic tape, then crush and consolidate the plastic so it can be used to make other products.

Made How – Videotape
GreenDisk – What Happens to My Technotrash

Do you have obsolete technology lying around your house? How will you e-cycle it?

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  • bernice m. 1 year ago
    Found in Tonawanda, any that Hazmanusa will take sh tapes to recycle for 50 cents a pound. Plan to take 2 bag loads there. Was going to try to send to Greendisk. Googled local recycler and so glad found them, Many libraries won't take the tapes anymore, or thrift stores. Recycling locally will be more environmentally friendly.
  • lisa p. 2 years ago
    Our local Library has a give & take bin. We put a lot of VHS tapes in there - store-bought ones and ones we taped off the TV. Before we even leave, we see families grabbing them up and taking them home. If you can buy a TV with a VHS player in one for cheap, you should for times when the cable goes out or if you vacation where you can't get signals. Remember the recent solar mass ejection that took down a lot of folks' cable & internet? We watched VHS tapes and had so much fun. Tapes are m ore reliable than Dvds over the long term. heck, we still repair our Laser Disc player an maintain our Laserdisc collection. Those Criterion laser discs had extras on them that are never on the Blurays plus the picture is amazing. Once a year, we have the player cleaned. Maybe we're just movie-nuts but we don't want to lose those things.
  • Tammy B. 2 years ago
    We actually BUY TAPES from Goodwill and Habitat to play at our cabin where internet and cell phones don't work! We have old players and TVs and pick up an extra machine or two when seen at thrift stores for later years. Kids love the old movies as do we adults!

    I also make cute purses and pencil cases for artistic young people in my life from the black or white hard cases VHS were often housed in. Would love to collect a bunch of them and make pencil boxes for less fortune or foster kids in my city.
  • B L. 3 years ago
    Make sure to ask before donating VHS (or cassettes) to a thrift store or library. Most don't take them anymore and even if they do, they get 25 copies of a popular movie and MAYBE one sells. The rest usually go in the trash. This costs the thrift store or library money because they have to pay for trash service. At a library I volunteer at, people often leave VHS/encyclopedias/trash on the doorstep after we tell them we don't want it.
    Unfortunately, Greendisk makes you pay shipping and then charges a large fee to take the tapes. Check with your local e-cyclers - a few will take VHS, but most don't.
  • Barbara C. 3 years ago
    If you don't have any friends who want the cassette, and you already have the movie on DVD, you could always put a piece of tape over the hole on the back of the cassette so you're able to record over it, and re-use the tape to record some of your current tv shows.
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