You may have a huge collection of tapes you aren’t currently using. Maybe you have converted them to digital and have no use for them.
Some of them may be collecting mold. You may wonder if these tapes may pose a health hazard.
Generally, VHS tapes aren’t toxic as long as they’re not heavily deteriorated. However, they contain enough toxic material to qualify as electronic waste or e-waste.
What is VHS Tape Made Of?
There are two parts to a VHS tape – the outer casing and the inner tape.
The outer casing is made from a combination of plastic materials and can be easily recycled.
That’s not so with the inner Mylar tape, made up of different kinds of coatings.
The inner tape is made of a polyester plastic base. This base is coated with polyester urethane binder material. On this binder material is the most important part of a VHS tape – magnetic oxide particles, responsible for storing video signals.
This is the hazardous part of the tape – the chemical coatings.
The video below has an explanation.
Can You Touch VHS Tape?
Generally, there’s no good reason for you to touch the inner VHS tape. You may leave a smudge on the tape and this affects the picture quality during playback.
If you accidentally touch tape that is sticky or contains mold, you should thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.
Avoid touching your eyes and mouth after coming into contact with the inner VHS tape.
If you’re trying to clean mold from your VHS tapes, use a pair of gloves as shown in the video below.
Can I Just Dump My VHS Tapes in a Landfill?
No, you can’t. VHS tapes aren’t biodegradable. These tapes will sit around for years and will eventually leach out. This can potentially contaminate the surrounding environment, including soil and water.
How Do You Dispose Of Old VHS Tapes?
Some may think that the easiest way to dispose of unused VHS tapes is by burning them.
It may seem convenient. However, it poses a health hazard. When you burn these tapes, they release toxic fumes. This gives rise to air pollution. Nearby water sources may be contaminated as well depending on the volume of tapes burned.
So, the best way to dispose of VHS tapes is through secure e-waste destruction.
If you have a large volume of tapes to get rid of, enlist the services of a waste recycling and the disposal firm.
But then you may have difficulty finding a waste recycling company that accepts magnetic material.
How Do You Find a Recycler for VHS Tapes?
- Use search.earth911.com to locate a suitable e-waste recycling service near you.
- Check with them to confirm if they accept VHS tapes. Not all services do.
What if I Can’t Find an E-Waste Recycler for VHS Tapes?
You may use the services of GreenDisk at greendisk.com.
They have a mail-in recycling program for techno trash. Apart from VHS tapes, they accept floppy disks, CDs and DVDs.
All you have to do is pack up your VHS tapes and enquire about their pick-up service.
How Do You Recycle a VHS Tape Yourself?
If you have the time and interest, you may prepare to recycle a VHS tape.
Watch this video to learn how to quickly recycle a VHS tape.