Four Ways to Recycle Your Old VHS Tapes

Old VHS Tape

It’s amazing how 10 years ago, every home theater system was stocked with VHS tapes. With the invasion of optical media like CDs and DVDs, VHS has now become a home entertainment dinosaur. Believe it or not, VHS was considered high-tech for its time, with features like Multiplex and Hi-Fi. Today, many VHS players are recycled at dump sites and industrial waste recycling facilities, but many individuals still have VHS tapes stored at their homes. Rather than have these bulky black tapes take up valuable storage space, you can always use them for something else. Here are four great ideas that you can use to recycle those old VHS tapes you may have around.
Before You Recycle Tapes…
Your old VHS tapes may contain some home movies you may want to watch again. Before recordable CDs and DVDs, VHS was the most popular way to record and play home videos. A video store can restore and re-record your old VHS cassettes and recordings into more convenient optical media discs. Many computer add-ons like tape readers also make this task convenient. You should only recycle a VHS tape if the recordings on it have been restored and re-written to a CD, a DVD, or a hard drive.Serving Dish
The case and tape spools of an old VHS tape make for a good mold for chocolates, warm caramel, or other sweet treats. Before you use the VHS case for kitchen purposes, remember to wash it carefully and thoroughly. VHS cassettes are not made from food-grade plastic, and may contain some toxic substances that can seep into whatever foodstuff you place in them. A thorough washing with hot soapy water and a trip to the dishwasher is usually enough to get rid of the pollutants and contaminants found on the plastic.

A great way to recycle your old VHS tapes is to use them as serving dishes for appetizers and small dishes. You can use the halves of the old VHS tape as a plate for delectable treats like sushi, Buffalo wings, vegetable sticks, and other finger foods.

VHS Case
The film or tape material of an old VHS cassette is a great material for insulation. If you own a video store, or if you have a lot of moldy VHS tapes stored at the attic or the basement, you can use the tapes as material to stuff double-walling with in case you run out of insulating foam. Once you scrunch up the tape, the air pockets in between the tape folds work well to preserve and retain heat inside a room in your house. While VHS tape can warp over time and under extreme temperatures, they can withstand most winter temperatures.

For VHS film to be a good insulator, you need a lot of cassettes. VHS film as insulation material works best on interior walls. VHS film tends to warp when used as insulating material for roofs. You can also use old spools of VHS tape as packing material for fragile cargo in case you run out of packing foam pellets.
Fly Swatter
One neat thing you can do with old rolls of VHS film is to make a fly swatter. A swatter made from VHS film is very effective, especially if you live in a warm part of the country. It is also very useful for picnics, hikes, and outdoor camping. A VHS fly swatter is very easy to make. All you need is a long stick, adhesive tape, and the film rolls from two or three VHS tapes:

  • Cut the film into six-inch strips.
  • Loop the cut pieces of film around one end of the stick — a lot like what you would do with pompoms. Make sure to allow at least four and a half inches of the VHS tape to hang loose from the end of the stick.
  • Tape up the base of the stick with adhesive tape, or knot it down with a length of extra VHS film.

When flies bug you at the picnic table, you can use this convenient fly swatter to shoo all those pesky disease-carrying insects away.

A Fly Swatter
Storage Device
The case of an old VHS tape is a multi-purpose storage device that can carry just about anything from loose change to breath mints to pencils and even old photos. A VHS cassette is screwed down with five cross-head screws, that you can also use to secure important items like jewelry and collectible stamps. The strong, impact-proof plastic of VHS cassettes also make it ideal to store curios and memorabilia.

Not only does recycling mean less waste, but you can also get more uses out of old stuff. VHS may be a thing of the past, but they can still be very useful items. You can even think of your own ways to recycle old cassettes.

7 Comments so far

  1. michael braganza on January 18th, 2009

    Your info on old VHS cassettes was very good but I would like to know if I can donate mine to someone. Please let me know .

  2. Video Tape Storage on February 19th, 2009

    I work in video tape storage and found this page on a search. Some great ideas here! Super fun! Love it.

  3. Elaine on June 11th, 2009

    Not any help. We want to find a place, not a landfill, that will recycle. We do NOT want to make anything or donate (most are TV shows). We just want to get rid of about 500+ tapes.

  4. James on June 27th, 2009

    Act recycling apparently does it, and also offers a Certified Destruction of Intellectual Property service. I haven’t used them yet, but Ive requested info, and will likely use them if the CDIP isn’t a whole lot - I have 200 VHS tapes.

  5. Ognev Vlaminck on July 24th, 2009

    I work with video tapes as I reuse them to build roofs. You can have a look on my website, which is unfrtunately only in Duch for the moment. The pictures say it all though…

  6. Paul on July 24th, 2009

    Yes you can recycle these. Books for the Planet sends educational, arts, & childrens tapes to Africa or schools/orphanages abroad who still use VHS. All others get bulk erased and recycled. Do not throw them away - VHS tapes are an environmental nightmare. They are 90% petroleum byproducts - they poison groundwater, and extremely harmful to children & wildlife within several mile radius. Mail them to Books for the Planet (via Media Mail - VHS are light, even a large box is pretty cheap to mail).

  7. jeff on November 15th, 2009

    Not much help, I manage a recycling facility in New England, and I am looking for information on the process of recycling VHS, BETA (If any still exist) and Cassette audios tapes. I have a source of the material but need to know the process fro recycling the plastic cases with the recordable media intact. If any knows please contact. Thank you

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