How to recycle video tapes

As a passionate recycler, I take a lot of pride in knowing exactly what goes where. To recycle or not to recycle, that is my favorite question. However, one item that has managed to elude me for ages are video tapes. I just never knew what to do with them. So when clients started asking, I had to investigate! Here’s what I found…


  • It takes one-sixth of a gallon of petroleum to produce a single VHS tape!
What you can do:
  • donate old VHS movies to your local thrift store (Goodwill/Out of the Closet)
  • recycle them to a friend (if your kids have outgrown their Baby Einstein, I’m sure there are many moms that would appreciate the free entertainment)
  • knit them into bags following this creative site’s free patterns… My Recycled Bags
  • recycle them to GreenDisk or Back thru the Future

The confusing part about recycling VHS tapes:

Many Los Angeles based media companies such as MSE Media Solutions and Tropical Media, will tell you that VHS tapes cannot be recycled. I spoke to the heads of these companies, and believed what they told me. I even read this information on other professional organizers websites. However I just didn’t want to believe it. So I researched and called around like the crazy “eco freak” that I am, and got the scoop. And what I found was a little disheartening.

When I spoke to the person who heads up the recycling department at MSE Media Solutions, (who shall remain nameless) he confidently told me that they were the last hope for people who wanted to recycled VHS tapes, and that if they couldn’t do it, no one could. And because there is no market for VHS tapes anymore, he explained that I have two options, “to let them sit on your shelf or throw them away.” However this isn’t so!

After digging a little deeper, I contacted David Beschen, a very knowledgeable individual and more importantly, the founder of a media recycling company called GreenDisk. Through a million questions and long answers, I discovered that the information I had been given up until now was completely inaccurate. As it turns out, YOU CAN RECYCLE VIDEO TAPES! And when I asked Beschen why I was receiving all this bad info, he replied, “sincerity doesn’t imply truth.” A great point for why you can’t always believe what you read or hear without looking further into the matter, especially when it comes to recycling.

To better understand why this breakdown in communication occurs you have to look at all the facts. For one, companies like MSE Media Solutions and Tropical Media, do not recycle the products they receive, they simply reuse them. Since the market for VHS tapes is now obsolete, there is no profit for reusing the tapes, and therefore no reason to take such media from consumers. And since they don’t bother taking the tapes, I’m assuming they haven’t bothered to look for companies who do, a possible reason for why I was misinformed.

A small price to pay for peace of mind:

Products that have viable markets, such as DVDs and CDs can be recycled easily and for free. Back thru the Future is one such company that takes this type of media, and all you have to do is pay for a box and the postage to send it to them. However since there is no profitable market for VHS tapes, both GreenDisk and Back thru the Future require a small fee for the collection and recycling of these formats.

Best of luck!


ps. photo by

One Response to “How to recycle video tapes”

  1. h|b says:

    Hi Sarah,

    My apologies for the late reply. Your comment got lost in a bunch of spam. I just took a look at the actrecycling program, and it’s fantastic! Thank you so much for the information.


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