How To Recycle Videotapes


Image Credit: Jean Scheijen

You may have a collection of videos gathering dust in your loft, garage or at the back of a cupboard. If you don’t want to throw your collection of unwanted videotapes in the bin there are only a few options open to you. (All the recycling options also apply to audio cassettes as well, by the way.)

Donate It

You may be able to donate them to a local charity shop, but this is getting quite rare now. Please check with the shop before donating as most shops no longer accept videotapes. If they can’t sell them they will simply have to put them in the bin. As charity shops have to pay business rates for refuse disposal you will actually be costing the charity money by donating them, so please don’t do that.

Some charity shops may take children’s videos.  Why? They still sell to grandparents who haven’t got a DVD player and want something for the grandchildren to watch when they babysit!

You could offer them on your local Freecycle, Gumtree or local Facebook selling page and see if anyone wants them.

Can You Sell It?

If you have a rare video of something that has never been released on DVD you might still be able to sell it. This is more likely if you have videos on a niche interest, but you may even have a film that is not widely available. A quick check on Amazon to see if it's available on DVD will confirm if your video may be in demand.

According to Bloomberg, Yale University library reportedly is collecting VHS tapes of movies only released on videotape for it's archives of cultural material too.

Could Your VHS Tape be a Collectors Item?

Coming after the revival of vinyl records, there is a small but loyal band of VHS tape collectors.

According to this article in The Telegraph as many as 50% of films available on VHS have not ever been released on DVD, and many are revered for their cover art the same way that LP covers are now regarded as worthy of hanging on the wall.

The 25 most valuable VHS Tapes are mostly schlocky horror movies that were banned soon after release, which is what makes them rare and therefore valuable.

If, by chance, you recorded a programme where the original has been wiped by the TV company you might be able to find a collector who might be interested in it. Indeed the TV company itself might be interested in recovering lost episodes of their programmes.

Still got Betamax videos? Some people still collect Betamax videos and players. Certainly there are plenty of Betamax related items for sale on eBay at any time.

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The Bad News

So what if your videotapes are not of historic or cultural interest?

In most local council areas videotapes cannot be put in your plastics kerbside recycling bin because of the chemical content of the tape itself, and even some recycling centres will not accept them. You will have to check with your local council to see if they will be accepted at a recycling centre.

If none of these solutions are possible, you will have to chuck your old videotapes in the bin and they will go to landfill. That hurts doesn't it? If you know of anywhere that will accept tapes for recycling we would love to know so please contact us and tell us about it.

Last Updated 12th February 2018

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