EDITED SEPT 2015: Unfortunately this service from EMS is no longer offered. Please see our other post for details of ‘The Recycling People‘.
The other week I had an email from a reader, Summer Fernando.
She wrote “I am always reading your site and your facebook posts and looking for new ways to reuse and recycle”.
Summer had been looking for ways to recycle VHS cassettes and audio cassettes and had missed our post from way back in 2010 when we wrote about The Recycling People.
She went on to share details of a company she came across called “Environmental media solutions” who will recycle up to 100 VHS tapes, audio cassettes, CDs and DVDs free of charge to householders. All you have to do is pack them up and cover your own postage charge.
I immediately contacted the company and spoke to Kim Cowley; who is the Business Development Manager, to find out more. I wanted to know what actually happened to the domestic VHS tapes and discs they recycled and what happened to the individual components.
Kim told me that the majority of their clients are professional media such as the BBC and ITV. She went on to say that they supply a complimentary service to the public, thanks to their founder Steve Everett, who wished to contribute to waste reduction beyond their business model.
All that they ask is that you deliver their tapes directly to them – either by post, courier or hand delivery; and to include a ‘domestic disposal form‘ with your media. Environmental Media Solutions is a private enterprise rather than a public service so, understandably, they cannot pay for the transportation of tapes to Bristol from around the UK.
Environmental Media Solutions Limited
Unit 6 A&B Old Coachworks
After speaking to a reader who sent a consignment to their old address, I would highly recommend you call them first on 0117 961 4724 to check this address is still valid.
Materials from the tapes they take in are separated and / or shredded and are ultimately returned to the manufacturing base in the form of plastics and metals.
Kim told me about the many further uses for the materials; where their grade and purity will dictate the breadth of options available.
For example, professional media tapes are traded and stored in polypropylene cases. These are extremely versatile plastics and once granulated, treated and re-moulded can find themselves in any number of household items.
The shells of cassettes such as VHS are a lower grade and therefore will have a more limited appeal on the polymers market. Still, these can return in the form of packaging and insulation.
Screws and springs of course, are much simpler and these once melted, are very easy to re-use as components in other goods.
Magnetic tape is and always has been the greatest challenge with recycling. Many recyclers of audio cassettes and VHS tapes just take the plastics and screws and landfill the tape.
Fortunately, EMS have found a couple of solutions. Following shredding, becoming a constituent in the production of insulation materials and packaging is a good solution. The tape can also – again when mixed with other waste – be heated and moulded for use in rugged outdoor furniture and decking.
So there we have it; if it’s time to recycle all those old embarrassing videos of yourself or the endless episodes of ‘You’ve Been Framed’ you can create some loft space AND do your bit for the environment.