What To Do With Old VHS Video Tapes In The UK

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Wondering what to do with that pile of old video tapes? Don’t bin them – I’ve got heaps of ideas to help save them from landfill.

If you’re of a certain age and clearing out stuff, or if you’re assisting someone a bit older with decluttering, you might find a stack of video tapes and wonder what to do with them.

I’m a child of the 1980s and 90s so videos were a huge part of my life. A great Saturday evening involved a trip to the video shop to pick a movie to watch, that you knew wouldn’t be on TV for years. Learning to schedule the video player to record something from the TV was also a key skill to master in the 80s and 90s. This is because there was no other way to watch a show again if you were going to be out. It’s little wonder that many of us acquired so many tapes.

The advent of DVDs was the death knell for VHS tapes. And now with the rise of streaming, physical media products don’t feel like they have much place in today’s society. So what do we with do with those old videos we no longer need?

What To Do With Old VHS Video Tapes In The UK

Five VHS tapes in a wooden crate with a blue text box that reads what to do with old video tapes - eco ideas to recycle them.

Videos can’t be recycled in your home recycling bins, or at any recycling centres in the UK. And most charity shops don’t accept VHS tapes anymore. However, this doesn’t mean you have to send your old tapes to landfill. Here are some eco options to help give them a new life:

Sell Or Pass Them On To Collectors

VHS video collection, with shelves full of videos.
Jim’s VHS Collection


Even though video tapes might appear outdated, there’s actually a thriving community of VHS enthusiasts out there. Take Jim, for instance, an artist who recently shared a photo of his extensive VHS horror movie collection with me. Jim has spent years building his prized collection.

There are heaps of different reasons why people collect VHS tapes. Some are driven by nostalgia and seek to add old favourites to their collections. Unopened and ex-rental tapes fetch the highest prices, with some unopened ones often selling for significant sums. However, even used tapes bought from Woolworths can find buyers!

Movie enthusiasts also appreciate VHS tapes because they offer the only way to watch certain films from the late 1970s and 1980s that never made it to DVD or streaming platforms.

This is especially true for horror movies. Jim told me that his copy of an obscure Italian horror movie, Antropophagus The Beast from 1980, fetched a whopping £210 when he sold it! However, those banned shortly after release are especially coveted by collectors and can command even higher prices.

This scarcity also applies to films in all genres. Since VHS is the sole viewing option for these rarities, getting a high price for obscure tapes is not uncommon.

Where To Sell

With a thriving collectors community, it’s always worth a bit of leg work to try and sell your old videos rather than binning them. There are a few places to sell, here are the best ones:

eBay


Despite a proliferation of competitors, eBay remains one of the most popular places to reach VHS enthusiasts across the globe.

You can sell your videos as job lots if you have a lot to sell. If you have any ex-rentals, unopened videos, or suspected rarities, then list these individually to get the maximum value for your tapes.

To sell successfully on eBay take good photos and write a clear description and descriptive title – including all the names of the videos if you are selling a job lot. It’s also wise to use the recently sold function on eBay to see what similar video tapes have sold for so that you can price accordingly.

Blank tapes can be sold on eBay, as production of VHS tapes ceased in 2008. Whilst the market is small, if you price competitively you may be able to find a buyer.

Facebook

If you have any tapes that you suspect are rare or are ex-rental, or have a collection that you want to sell in bundles or individually, then there are a few Facebook selling groups that are worth joining:

  • The Video Club is a private group of almost 3000 members, where you can sell old VHS video tapes for free.
  • VHS Collectors/Traders is a private group of 29,000 members, where you can sell any VHS tapes for free, as long as they are not Disney ones.

As part of my research for this post, I’ve joined a few video-selling groups. My top advice is to join a group and read up on the selling rules. Once you’re familiar with the rules, it’s best to observe for a few days to learn the best practices for each group, and to get to grips with pricing, before offering anything for sale.

As well as commercial tapes, I have seen TV recordings listed for sale in these groups. Cartoons recorded off the TV and recordings made of live TV events are particularly popular with collectors. TV series, such as Heartbeat, which still reruns on TV now, seem less popular with buyers.

Gumtree

Gumtree is best for selling job lots of videos, rather than individual videos – so save the highest-value ones for eBay or Facebook. If you have any local collectors in your area, then they might buy these and collect them from your door. Again, take photos, and make sure you list all the video’s names.

Where To Pass On Your Tapes

If you don’t feel like you have anything worth selling or don’t want to do the work involved, then there are heaps of places you can use to pass on your VHS tapes.

Online Marketplaces

Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and Freecycle are good places to list boxes of videos for free that you want to pass on. These may well appeal to local collectors looking to fill in gaps in their collection. Or to collectors who will take them off your hands to trade or sell to other collectors.

Collectors

Ade, a Blackpool-based musician who makes electronic music under the name VHS Head, collects old VHS tapes. Ade then uses them to make electronic music entirely from VHS tape samples.

I got in touch with Ade to see what they accept. Ade says: “I take any type of tape really – commercial, TV, special interest, adult, educational and home movies. Usually the more obscure the better. There’s no real limit on how many I take. I’ve taken nearly 1k tapes at once in the past and I’ve had people donate from as far as the US. I don’t like thinking I’ll miss out on some sample gold! Especially how they’re getting harder to find.”

So if you have any tapes you’re looking to pass on, it’s well worth contacting Ade.

And if you have a copy of Titanic on video, you might even be able to pass it on to this Titanic superfan who collects copies of Titanic on VHS!

Pass Them On To TV Studios

Five VHS tapes in a wooden crate on a pink background

Whilst very few people will want to buy or take the old episodes of Minder or ‘Allo ‘Allo that your parents taped off the TV in 1986, video tapes of old TV programmes can be sought after by TV companies and collectors.

Many TV companies, including the BBC, adopted a process called wiping up until the very late 1970s. This was where TV companies purposely destroyed recordings of their programmes to reuse the tapes, free up storage space, or because they were believed to have no further value. This means many TV shows have been lost to history.

If you think you’ve unearthed something of importance – for example, a recording of one of the 97 missing Dr Who episodes, then try contacting the TV company to see if it’s something they are missing from their archive. If not, it may well be something that collectors would buy.

Upcycle Them

Whilst the idea of upcycling might be sacrilege to members of the video groups I’ve joined or the collectors I’ve been in touch with, if you are feeling creative then you can upcycle your old tapes. Try Pinterest for inspiration – from wall clocks to umbrella stands and a whole lot more. Just don’t tell any collectors what you’ve done!

Use A Video Tape Recycling Company

If you end up with tapes that you can’t sell or pass on, several UK companies will recycle them for a cost. It can get expensive, so for most, it’s a last-resort option:

TerraCycle

TerraCycle’s Storage Media Zero Waste Box can be used to recycle videos. Simply choose the size of box you’d like to purchase – prices range from £139 to £229.

When you receive your box fill it with your old videos. Once full, schedule a collection to send your videos to TerraCycle using the pre-paid shipping label. When TerraCycle receive your box, it will recycle all of your tapes, turning them into new recycled plastic products.

TipTop Media

TipTop Media ensure that tapes are securely recycled, in an environmentally friendly manner. ​It’s partnered with a fully licensed waste carrier registered with the Environment Agency to recycle waste without anything going to landfill.

You need to contact TipTop Media for a quote – pricing will depend on how many tapes you have.

The Butterfly Garden

Finally, if you’re local to Cheltenham, you can donate old tapes to the Swindon Road household recycling centre for free. These are then taken to The Butterfly Garden, a charity whose volunteers work to dismantle and separate every component to make them fit for recycling.

The separated components are then collected by Printwaste, a recycling company, that ensures all the elements are recycled correctly.

The Bottom Line

Even if you don’t find any value in your old videos, it’s not to say that your tapes are worthless. They may well be highly prized by a growing band of VHS collectors. As such, it’s always worth trying to sell or pass them on, rather than putting them in the bin. Who knows, you may have something of value in your collection!

Failing that, try upcycling or recycling them – if you can afford to – to help keep your tapes out of landfill.

PS: Here’s what to do with any old CDs you might be trying to declutter, as well as sustainable decluttering tips for tips on dealing with a whole host of other household items.

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