How can I reuse or recycle VHS video tapes?

Video tapeI’ve always been a film fanatic and amassed quite a collection of videos over the years until DVDs came along. Most of my pre-recorded ones were given away and the ones we recorded ourselves went to live in the attic along with the VCR itself. A couple of years on, they’re still up there.

I hadn’t thought of them though until I posted the blog on televisions a couple of weeks ago then Brian emailed to say he had a similar collection of now-redundant tapes too – and now here we are: how can we reuse or recycle video tapes?

Best Suggestions

  • Pass Them On: offer pre-recorded videos to your local charity shop or on Freecycle – not everyone’s made the switch to DVD and it’s a cheap way for them to pick up entertainment for free/cheap. Some charity shops don’t accept them any more because no one buys them – it differs from shop to shop and between areas.
  • Reuse: Crafters have used the tape for crocheting or weaving. The resulting fabric if often used for retro-style bags or purse. Gardeners also use strips of video to deter birds from attacking seedlings.
  • Recycle: Some recycling schemes do exist but they tend to be private and only available in a limited area (due to postage/transport costs). Details of some schemes are below.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by vierdrie)

Related Categories

household, items, technology

Search for other related items



325 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle VHS video tapes?”


  1. Stuart Flynn says:

    The cases make great lunch boxes. I knit with the tape and since the health scares I now knit with my gardening gloves, outside in warm weather and fresh air. If you can wire the cassette shells together neatly they make quirky wastepaper baskets or a good base for scrim/plaster pots or concrete planters. The earlier memento box idea is great as the cases fit so well in bookcases amongst the books.

    • Mary Anne Enriquez says:

      “Since the health scares I now knit with my gardening gloves, outside in warm weather and fresh air. ”

      Yet you advocate them to be used as “lunch boxes” afterwards? The tape continues to shed and the particulates breathed in and skin absorbed by anyone who uses them. It just doesn’t make much sense to create with the tape…and then pass on the hazards to others.

      • Lesley says:

        I thought they meant they knit with the vhs tapes themselves and this was the health scare component? I think they are taking about the box being used for lunch boxes

    • Rhonda says:

      Stuart, are you accepting cassette tape cartridges?

  2. kim forrest says:

    Excuse me…. what health scares??

  3. adrian Downing says:

    http://www.ems-europe.co.uk/vhs_recycling.php

    This free service is open to domestic house holders only and not businesses. We can only accept a maximum of 100 items per household

    • Flora Finch says:

      Hi Adrian – are you still accepting old videos please? Also, are you based in London, UK please? All best wishes, Flora

      020 7820 9638 [t]
      07803 081 763 [m]

  4. anita says:

    Cant you jsut drop the video’s in then plastic re-cylcing container?

    • Mary Anne Enriquez says:

      No you can’t. the plastic cannot be recycled in regular plastic recycling. I am not sure if even doing so would not jam up current methods of machines that recycle plastics. Non the less, since those cases don’t have the recycling symbol on them….they won’t go into the plastic waste stream like milk jugs, detergent bottles, and soda or water bottles.

  5. Woah this blog is magnificent i like studying your posts. Keep up the great work! You know, a lot of persons are searching around for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  6. Christine F says:

    A great idea was recently suggested to us by somebody living the ‘green’ life in the country – use videos (in cases) as insulation for buildings. It seems they provide the right kind of air gaps necessary for keeping warmth where required.
    So the walls of my lovely shed (sheds are not just for blokes!) is going to be lined with a double layer of videos, which fit perfectly between the wooden support struts, then panelled over with tongue-&-groove panels.
    Local charity shops have been more than willing to offload their now-unsellable videos!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Not very creative I know but there is a company now that recycle tapes (audio and video). They’ll take up to 100 items per household for free although the sender has to pay the postage. They’re called Environmental Media Solutions and are based in Bristol, UK. I shall be taking mine there in the next week.

    • Freeshopper says:

      In Bristol there is a free shop at 35 stokes croft which will be happy to accept your video tapes and audio cassettes.
      It is open 2-5:30pm on Thurs, Fri, Sat.
      Happy free shopping!

  8. Cate B says:

    Sorry, it’s just published me as anonymous but I’m not really, honest!

  9. Lel says:

    Found this site looking for the best way to use or dispose of old videos – thank you everyone – just have to comment on the idea of using them as insulation in buildings. The tapes are highly inflammable and can spontaneously combust if there are lots of them and they get too warm, so that might not be a good idea. Sorry, no references for that at the moment, but worth checking.

  10. fashion bug says:

    I will right away grab your rss as I can’t find your email subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly let me recognize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  11. Anonymous says:

    20120419.0525

    I work at a charitable organization here in Australia. We sell pre-recorded video tapes at 20 pieces to one Australian dollar. This is equivalent to only five cents each.

    The pre-recorded video tapes may be children’s videos (e.g., Madeline, Wiggles, etc.) or adult videos (e.g., Titanic, Babe, etc).

    Since they are very cheap, we sell a lot of them. I guess we could copy the content to CDs or DVDs before discarding them.

  12. francis staple says:

    i have about 5000 vhs films free to collector inbox me thanks

  13. Mike says:

    .I recycle HI8 cassette tape all blank media.Nothing ends up in a land fill.Shipping is paid.I live in Canada My email address is (thekind@telus.net)

  14. Jo says:

    Excellent info, i’m loading mine up to send to the Bristol Environmental Media Solutions.

    Just to let you know, an average VHS weighs about 200grams, the older the heavier by the looks of things. When loading mine I am writing down the names of the films so when I do have the chance I can buy them again or at least just not forget the list of films I loved : )

  15. yvonne davies says:

    Ihave a large number of vidio tapes for children and adults if anyone would like them we live in swansea and i am willing to deliver.

  16. patricia says:

    Hi, I collect old video cassettes but only original cassettes (with pre-recorded films, not taped from the television) on Beta and Vhs. And only from/released between 1978-1985. Email me your lists and I will pay for postage and possibly for the films themselves. Thanks. retrovault19781985@gmail.com

    • Flora Finch says:

      Hi Patricia – are you still collecting old video cassettes please? All best wishes, Flora [020 7820 9638; 07803 081 763]

  17. Alex says:

    Best Buy completely recycles these through their ecycle program.

  18. Max says:

    Hi, I am a collector of video’s released between 1978-1985, I am in the Leeds area and would be willing to pick up any unwanted tapes or pay for shipping if further a field.

    m.procter666@ntlworld.com

  19. Smuzz says:

    All these comments have been very heartening – just to know that I’m not alone in being bothered by the mass of non-recyclable videocassettes. Also delighted to finally read of people who know the difference between recycling and just ‘Not throwing it away’. Most businesses are unable to make this distinction – never mind people!
    It’s scandalous that this issue isn’t more public – all over the world, people have been buying these wonderful things and are now junking them for space-saving and more user-friendly DVD’s – the combined global tonnage must be massive!
    Myself, I’ve only been able to disassemble the cassette, recycling the metal parts (Each cassette is a little machine in itself) and used the tape for Halloween decoration (Admittedly, a possible fire hazard). This still leaves me with the case itself which is – alas – the bulk of the item.

  20. Jean Baker says:

    Hi
    I have loads of video cassettes we now don’t want including full series of Inspector Morse, and many Inspector Frost, also original series Star Trek, and many other film and children’s videos.
    Would rather someone had them befor binning them as this seems an awful waste.
    If anyone is interested let me know.

  21. Jill Williams says:

    I have 3 carrierbags full of VHS tapes. Disney, John Wayne(boxed), Jethro Tull, Only Fools and Horses and 1/2 others. Can help with delivery within WestDorset/East Devon – meet half-way? or 50% postage/carrier. Time sensitive as some storage is going out.

  22. EMS appear to have collection points in Rugby, Bristol, Slough and Lambeth http://www.ems-europe.co.uk/map-of-collection/. Not much help for those of us in the Midlands though!

  23. John MX says:

    help! I have numerous Vts to give away…a boxed set of Paul Scott’s “Raj Quartet”, numerous operas that I am loathe to bin… N London, … any takers?

  24. Michael says:

    Video cassettes where manufactured before it became legislation for producers to have logos on their products and even though they dont have a recycling logo Old VHS and Beta video cassettes can be recycled. Look for a local recycler that deals with Polystyrene (No6) as that is the plastic used for the main housing, the film on which the movie is is made from a PET film the same plastic as bottle water bottles. The plastic video cassette boxes are made out of polypropylene (No5)

  25. Jenny says:

    Have video cassettes and music tapes that I want to fine someone who can put them to some good use. I seemed to have an idea that there was a charity who made cases for pens with them. But can not find anything about it. Can any one help please?Jenny

    jenatsunnybrook51@btinternet.com

  26. Michael says:

    I’d be happy to take any videos people might still have of stuff they taped from the TV, depending on what it is. I’m mainly looking for old slightly obscure movies (1920s-80s – any genre) and old documentaries (eg. Arena, Imagine, Storyville, South Bank, Scene by Scene, biographies, basically anything pre-2005)), but also old drama series and comedy. I’m not as interested in prerecorded videos unless they’re fairly obscure or rare. I might even be prepared to pay some money for a particularly interesting collection. If anyone has some they think would fit the bill, my email is shouldabroughtasweater@ymail.com. I live in the Tyne valley, 10 miles west of Newcastle.

  27. Peter says:

    Just had a clearout and have about 2 dozen videos to get rid of. My local recycling place said they can only go to landfill and I am loathed to do that. I would have thought that their should be a way of recycling them as there must be millions of tons of VHS tapes out there.

  28. Ethyleen Jones says:

    I have a lot of VHS tapes that I have taped, some are movies and some music, they can be taped over. Can any one use them?

  29. Tina says:

    I have numerous children’s (many disney)VHS tapes to dispose of I don’t know where to get rid of them and live in Northamptonshire if anyone is interested my email is tbez@hotmail.co.uk.

  30. andy says:

    I have various star trek voyager, simpsons, cheech and chong vids, free to anyone who wants them in the manchester area. Please mail me archie2112@yahoo.co.uk and go from there.

  31. Christine Brackley says:

    I have seen video tape knitted into a bag

  32. annemarie says:

    wow its great too see so many people recycling,my husband was just on a course via his work and on this course he learned that now 2013 there are only 8 years of landfill left for our waste :( after that where is it going too go,iam now determined too recycle everything i can because every person who recycles adds a few more years on xx

  33. Dougie BATES says:

    I have several old mobile phones that I would like re-cycled.

    Can anyone advise me who may take these and if a Freepost envelope is avalible.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hi folks just a quick update to let you know that we can no longer accept any unwanted audio or video tapes as we no longer have a place to store them but can I thank you all for your donations and kind words during the last couple of years that we (ACT) have been involved with the recycling of these items.
    We have been responsible from keeping hundreds if not thousends of these items going to land fill so well done all!
    We still how ever want any old photographic slides and 8mm film and you can send these to me at
    Nutmeg
    11 Glebe fields
    Belbroughton
    Worcs
    DY9 9TA

  35. nigel self says:

    Sorry folks I forgot to sign my message silly me …..Nigel Self at DY9 9TA

    • Liz says:

      Hi Nigel, I would love to know what you do with old photo slides. Do you use them as pictures or reuse the celulose ? have quite a large collection to find a home for. I live in Rubery, so delivering them would be no problem.

  36. chattydachs says:

    Our Charity have been taking apart videos for over a year and still have plenty more to do but we are having a big problem with disposing of the tape as no one will take it,we thought the company in Bristol would have been interested but they do not want it.Looks like it will end up in land fill which is what we were trying to avoid.We can dispose of the plastic outer cases etc.to recycle.If anyone has any ideas please let me know at chattydachs@yahoo.co.uk Thank you.

  37. Gemma says:

    It’s a long shot, but if you have home recordings containing something rare then it might be worth checking if the originating TV network is interested. Sometimes viewers capture things that were never officially archived. For example, among the extras on the BBC’s Red Dwarf DVDs are original TV trailers that were salvaged by luck from viewers’ tapes.

  38. Mike Offiler says:

    Just read this thread from start to finish Jan 2007 to June 2013 !!! and it’s sad to note that there is still nowhere to easily recycle/safely dispose of Cassette and VHS tapes. After all this time isn’t it time the manufacturers of these items became more involved in the safe disposal of them?

  39. ben says:

    It is a shame Mike. I too have a lot of VHs tapes and I don’t like the thought of just dumping them. It’s a shame we cannot put them in the plastic waste bin and have them recycled

  40. Michael says:

    I’d be happy to take any videos people might still have of stuff they taped from the TV, depending on what it is. I’m mainly looking for old slightly obscure movies (1920s-90s – crime,horror,foreign,musicals,western,comedy,indie – anything) and old documentaries (eg. Arena, Imagine, Storyville, Omnibus, South Bank, biographies, basically anything pre-2005), but also old dramas and comedy. Basically anything that isn’t readily available on dvd. I’m not interested in more well-known films as I’ve probably already got them. I’m interested in prerecorded videos if they’re fairly cult, obscure or rare. If anyone has some they think would fit the bill, could you please send me a list or at least some idea of what’s on the tapes to shouldabroughtasweater@ymail.com. If I like the sound of your collection I might be able to come and pick them up. If you post a reply on the message board please leave your email address.

  41. Tania says:

    This process consumes very little energy and is much profitable.
    29,000 new jobs can be created from plastic recycling
    alone, and recycling this plastic can help reduce
    the amount of the material that ends up in rivers, beaches,
    and oceans. You can pretend you’re there with Earth – Cam’s live streaming app, which gives you a real-time look at hot spots like Bourbon Street.

  42. Ailsa Judd says:

    I am looking to give away VHS tapes. My parents used to run a rental video shop and most of the tapes have been boxed up and sat in the loft for years.
    Approx 200 tapes to get rid off and don’t like the idea of them going to landfill.
    Please email if you would like any.
    Tapes would need to be collected form Durham or I can post if you pay for the postage. Please enquire at akbroxson@gmail.com

  43. Amanda says:

    Hi,
    I have 50+ VHS tapes that will going to the tip soon. There is a barney collection and other children tapes.

    Anyone interested?

    I am base in Bournmouth.



Leave a Reply

Your name
Your email (it will not be published. If you want people to contact you, leave your email address in the message too.)
Your website (if you've got one)