I have old VHS and Betamax tapes taking up space in my house. What should I do with them?

Are VHS or Betamax tapes taking up valuable storage space in your home? Do you want to clear them out but have no idea what you should do with them? You’re probably wondering if you should throw them in the trash, or if there is a recycler that would take them. Unfortunately, neither of these options are good choices, but we do have solutions for you. 

Why can’t I just throw them in the trash? 

You really shouldn’t throw them in the trash because VHS and Betamax tapes are considered magnetic media. The tape can be coated in harmful metals like Chromium, and shouldn’t end up in a landfill. Also, it doesn’t seem like dumpster divers would be after VHS tapes, but the ones that contain your holiday gift opening memories or video of the first day of Kindergarten have more identifiable information than you might think. Not just anyone should have access to your vintage family footage. 

Someone has to recycle old VHS and Betamax tapes, right? 

In terms of recycling, the plastic “outside” of the VHS or Betamax tape is recyclable. However, because the tape inside is mylar and generally made of plastic polyethylene, a recycler is not likely to take it. And again, the coating on the tape makes this a more hazardous type of material to handle. 

So what CAN you do with your outdated VHS and Betamax tapes?  

If it’s a VHS tape that has your child’s favorite cartoons, or it’s a classic movie, consider donating it to your local library, school, or Senior Community Center. Their movie catalogs could likely use an update, and they’ll probably have the correct device to play a VHS tape. They are unlikely to accept content that is considered scary or too controversial, but The Little Mermaid or Benji are probably fine. 

Are you crafty? Consider using the VHS or Betamax tape in a project where you upcycle them and turn them into something new, and artsy.  

If you’re not crafty, and you strike out with your local library or community center, you can bring your old VHS, Betamax and other magnetic media to Shred Right for secure destruction.  Your old media will be rendered indecipherable, and it will be disposed of using Shred Right’s “GreenSmart®” final disposal guidelines. GreenSmart® is Shred Right’s program that’s designed to keep shredded material out of area landfills and insure the material is recycled or incinerated at a licensed facility. Meaning, your family holiday footage on VHS tape will not end up in a landfill to pollute groundwater, or in the hands of someone who has questionable intentions. 

You don’t have to let another year pass while you stare at your wall of VHS and Betamax tapes and dream about what you could be doing with that space. You can get them out of your space through donations, upcycling or bringing them to Shred Right for secure destruction.