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How to dispose of VHS tapes

Updated April 17, 2017

VHS cassettes and other magnetic recording media are becoming obsolete. Disposal presents environmental and health issues that cannot be ignored. Tossing old videos into the bin is not an option. With effort, it is still possible to renew, refresh and recycle salvageable video cassettes while responsibly disposing of those that are no longer useful.

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  1. Collect the VHS tapes and sort them into four piles:

    1. Tapes to sell (hard-to-find or one-of-a-kind films, travelogues or documentaries)

    2. Tapes to donate (films in good condition or blank, unused tapes)

    3. Tapes to convert to digital media (homemade videos or taped historic events)

    4. Tapes to to bin (tapes that are in poor condition)

  2. Advertise the tapes you want to sell on websites like eBay or Amazon, or look in the yellow pages for used bookshops that buy, sell or trade VHS media. Anything left after 2 weeks goes into the "tapes to donate" pile.

  3. Contact local libraries, schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, senior centres and other organisations to see if they accept and can use VHS tapes. Some organisations will not accept VHS tapes because they are considered hazardous waste. Anything that cannot be donated goes into the "tapes to bin" pile.

  4. Look online or in the local telephone directory to find companies that convert VHS tapes to DVDs and other digital media. Consider buying a VCR-to-PC video cassette digital converter and doing the conversion yourself. Tapes that have been converted go into the "tapes to bin" pile.

  5. Do not throw videocassette tapes into the bin. VCR tapes contain materials that are not biodegradable and are hazardous to human health and the environment if not disposed of properly. Contact your local health department, environmental agency, recycling centre or landfill to find out where to take your "tapes to bin" for proper disposal.

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About the Author

Rae Casto began writing professionally in 1982. She writes on a variety of topics including health, nutrition, art and culture for various websites. Casto holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and art from Guilford College and a Master of Public Administration in health administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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