Can You Recycle VHS Tapes?

Updated July 19, 2017

When VHS tapes burst on the scene in the early 1980s, it changed our lives--and family rooms. We bought so many videotapes, we needed new shelves and entertainment systems to house them. Thirty years later, the technology is on its way to obsolescence, our shelves are now crammed with DVDs, and tapes are being tossed into the trash at an alarming rate.

Sobering Fact

If every American throws out 20 old tapes, more than 6 billion videotapes will end up in landfills. That's more than 104 million cubic feet of trash. VHS tapes can--and should--be recycled. If we don't want to view the tapes today, imagine how our grandkids will feel viewing them in landfills.

Recycling Services

Many professional recycling services gladly accept VHS tapes, but you may have to do a little sleuthing to find them. Start with the Earth911 site (link in Resources). They make it easy by asking right on the home page "Find recycling centre for ___." Fill in the blank with "VHS tapes" and supply your postcode. It will provide a list of services in your area. You can also check the site (link in Resources). Big city or small town, they'll supply the names and contact information of recyclers in your area.

Kerbside Recycling

Call your waste management company or visit its website to learn if videotapes are accepted in your kerbside recycle bins. Many consumer technology items require special handling and may not be placed in bins. If you're required to break the tapes up and separate the recyclable parts, wear gloves and a dust mask. Videotape is covered with a metal oxide coating. No need for your hands or lungs to be, too.


Find out if there is a place that will accept your commercial videos as a donation. Tapes in good condition may be appreciated by Goodwill Industries, the Salvation Army or your local homeless shelter. Earthcare Recycling in Silicon Valley recycles tapes and other difficult-to-dump items collected at fundraising events. They've used proceeds to benefit schools, sports leagues and families of police officers killed on duty. "We offer 50 per cent of the proceeds from all items recycled to the group or individual," Earthcare states. "We offer many other services that can help make the event a huge success!"


Check out the Swaptree website to see if you can barter your old tapes for something you'd enjoy today. Swap meets and flea markets are also possibilities. Bring tapes in their original packaging. Children's videos, fitness tapes and "How to" videos are your best bets.

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About the Author

Jas Lonnquist is an award-winning writer and producer with credits in film, television, video, print and web. Specializing in technology and travel, her work has appeared on the Discovery Channel, Tech TV and Comedy Central, on topics ranging from DNA analysis to deserted islands.