A few weeks ago I was working with a client to see how we could safely dispose of VHS tapes after they were transferred to digital format. Ideally, we were thinking we could take them to one of the local recycle centers. Well, we were in for a surprise! Not one place in the Tulsa area that we contacted recycles VHS tapes! And, I’m pretty sure we called them all. What we discovered is that all VHS tapes are promptly thrown in the trash. Knowing that these items that once held our precious memories encased in plastic, will never biodegrade was a bit disheartening.
One of the facilities that I talked with though, informed me that they do stock pile the tapes until the reach a certain amount. Then they “erase” the tapes with a type of magnet before throwing them in the dumpster. At least memories of your child will not somehow show up later in the hands of someone else.
I was going to write an article about our discovery then, but time got away from me. Until today …
One of my fellow associates that lives in Indiana posted a question on Facebook group with a similar finding that we discovered. Most others in the group also encountered the same experience. There are other alternatives though if recycling centers in your area do not recycle VHS tapes.
The Alternatives to Trashing VHS Tapes
- If they are actual movies, like Disney, then seek out your local thrift store or library to see if they can be used. Maybe a school or non-profit center.
- Getting crafty. This blog post on the site Top 10 of Everything and Anything has some fun ideas for turning VHS tapes into bookshelves, clocks, pencil cases and more. Or perhaps you can draw inspiration from artists using VHS tapes in their work. In 2010 Lorenzo Durantini created an amazing undulating tower from over 2,000 VHS tapes. Artists also use the magnetic tape inside the VHS tapes, as is demonstrated by these pictures on Pinterest.
Nation-wide Recycling Centers
- Green Disk. Having said the above, there are a few centers where you could ship your VHS tapes to have them recycled. You can ship them to Green Disk, a Washington-based company that specializes in recycling all kinds of e-waste. They offer a variety of options and recycle other items such as CDs, diskettes, DVDs, ink cartridges, cell phones, videotapes, pagers, and PDAs. The starting fee is $14.95 + shipping. You provide the box. If you have a number of items or maybe one to go in with others, they provide boxes called TechnoTrash. You can find out more about there services here.
- Some places have businesses or nonprofits that specialize in recycling VHS tapes. In Columbia, Missouri a group called Alternative Community Training (ACT) takes VHS tapes for recycling. All the proceeds are used to support their job training programs for people with disabilities.
If you have discovered a recycling center that truly recycles VHS tapes, would you please let me know? I will update the article and add to the list of resources.