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How to Recycle and Reuse VHS Tapes

Even if you are not a collector, chances are you can easily find some old VHS tapes and audio cassettes sitting forgotten in a corner of your house covered with dust. Sometimes a small number of them seem like a big problem if you can't find a proper way to transfer old video tapes to DVD as they are so troublesome to recycle. 

Like cassette tapes and other old media that are made of plastic, there simply are not a lot of places that recycle VHS tapes. It’s also very hard to re-purpose them in households as they contain flammable material. Moreover, it costs more to break them down and make something out of them. 

VHS Tape Materials

VHS tapes are made with two different types of plastics. The outer cassette is normally made of polypropylene and the inside ribbon is made with Mylar, a type of polyethylene terephthalate. The ribbon is coated with iron oxide and other metals that are mostly hazardous. These materials are the main reasons why you cannot really reuse these because these plastics cannot be used to make something new out of them.

Why Recycling VHS Tapes?

You must have heard about the term e-waste. In the simple definition, it includes unwanted electrical and electronic equipment such as TV, computer, mobile phones, fax machines, VCR & DVD players, Cassettes, VHS etc. Most of the time it happens due to the short life-span of electronic equipment and the fast-growing volume of electronic devices in the market.

Our eco-system faces hazardous situations when e-waste ends up in landfill owing to the materials it contains. According to the international studies, 70% of heavy metals in all landfill come from e-waste. In Australia, approximately 140,000 tonnes of e-waste is currently generated per annum, with only 4% being recycled.

So, it is really important that you recycle VHS tapes in a proper way. VHS tapes are made of plastic which will never biodegrade. If you throw them in a landfill, they will just sit there for uncountable years and over time the hazardous metal on the tape may leach into the ground. If they end up in the incinerator they can release chemicals such as dioxins into the air we breathe. Make sure you choose the correct way if you are planning to recycle those

Recycling & Reusing Options:

Hire an E-Waste Recycling Service

If you are in Australia, then you can look for recycling services for video and audio tapes along with their cases, you can simply give away your VHS tapes to these companies. In some communities, VHS tapes are considered e-waste and can be recycled through the regular e-waste collection program.

Sell your VHS tapes to the collectors

If you don’t like the idea of recycling them, there are many collectors out there who are ready to buy all your old VHS tapes. Just put them on e-bay or sell them at garage sales and make some money out of them. You can also donate the classic tapes to the local library.

DIY recycling of VHS tapes

To recycle tapes responsibly you first need to separate the pieces of them and then recycle each element in the following ways:

  • The shells are made of lower grade plastics thus these have very limited appeal on the polymer market. Still, these can return in the form of packaging and insulation. 
  • Screws and springs are much simpler to reuse once melted. The tape can also be used when mixed with other tapes - and be heated and moulded for use in rugged outdoor furniture and decking.
  • VHS tapes were typically sold in cases of various kinds. Some were made of plastics and some were of cardboard. The cardboard ones can easily be recycled but plastic cases are more difficult.

You could research any communities who would like to reuse them, but if you simply cannot find one you could always do something creative to reuse them - for instance storing electronics and stationary. Be sure you keep them away from the fire as they can be highly flammable.

Above all, if you need to convert your old video tapes to DVD, you can consult with the team at Cineclair Productions

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