Most people use phone cases to protect their devices—and as a fashion statement—but phone cases frequently become unusable. The main reasons: you’re discarding your phone and can’t use the case any more, or your case gets damaged, losing its protectiveness.
So, what should you do with your phone case? Put it in a landfill? Or keep it in storage for years to come?
There are some practical ways for you to deal with your old phone cases, such as repurposing them or even recycling them. Though, needless to say, what you can do will depend on the state of your phone cases.
We’ll detail the options, while also looking at different types of eco-friendly cases.
4 things you can do with your old phone cases
If it’s still in a fairly good condition, you could upcycle your case into something useful. Here are some things you can use an old phone case as:
- A soap dish
- A sponge holder for your kitchen countertop
- A luggage tag
- A dish for small jewelry items, hair accessories, or home keys
- A tray for votive candles
Sell them online
Sell your old phone case online or to a friend and get some money out of it. This does mean your phone case has to still be in good condition, and the phone model it goes with should still be in demand.
Donate them to a thrift store
Donating your unwanted phone cases to GoodWill or Salvation Army gives them a fighting chance of being used again, and you might be helping someone find a phone case for cheap.
Phone cases can’t be tossed into plastic recycling bins. But there are special recycling programs out there for phone cases. Read on to find out about them.
How to recycle old phone cases
Municipal recycling programs do not accept phone cases for recycling. But there are various companies and organizations that have recycling programs for phone cases.
TerraCycle’s PopSockets recycling program
TerraCycle is an American recycling company specializing in hard-to-recycle materials. Its recycling program accepts phone cases from any brand as well as products and packaging from phone accessories brand PopSockets.
All you have to do is request a shipping label from TerraCycle, wrap up your old phone cases, and drop them in the mail. In return, you’ll earn reward points for your recycling and redeem them for a donation to a charitable organization or school of your choice. The whole process is pretty simple—yet meaningful.
Casetify, popular for its graphic and custom phone cases, has a program called ReCasetify for recycling phone cases from any brand. This program, however, is limited to the United States, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. Just bring your old phone cases into specified stores, and the company will further disassemble them and reuse plastic parts for its ReCasetify line of phone cases. You’ll also get 15% off your next purchase.
Pela Case’s 360 program
Pela Case is a Canadian company known for its eco-friendly, fully compostable phone cases. When you buy a Pela case, it comes with an envelope to send in your old phone case for recycling, no matter the brand or material. The company then recycles, upcycles, or composts it. Be mindful of shipping costs, though, if you live outside of Canada!
What to look for when buying eco-friendly phone cases
High-quality phone cases are absolutely worth it, given the cost and utility of a smartphone. But all that protection means plastic.
There are options for more eco-friendly phone cases though. They fall into these categories:
It’s made of compostable materials
Compostable materials—typically coming from plants or organic materials—can disintegrate into non-toxic components valuable for soil. Phone cases made of compostable materials are the eco-friendliest!
Pela Case is particularly known for its cases made of a blend of compostable bioplastic elastomer and flax straw materials.
It’s made of biodegradable materials
Can’t find a compostable phone case to your liking? An alternative to compostable phone cases are those made of biodegradable materials—which are any materials that can break down in the environment. Biodegradable phone cases should be made of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and PBAT (Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate). The brands known for their biodegradable phone cases include Casetify, Wave, and Tech21.
Compostable vs. biodegradable. Compostable phone cases are more eco-friendly than biodegradable ones! Compostable materials, once broken down, have many beneficial uses, including fertilizing and improving soil health—while biodegradable materials can still leave toxic waste behind. However, compostable phone cases tend to be more expensive than biodegradable ones, as they cost more to make.
It’s free of BPA and phthalates
BPA and phthalates are considered bad for your health and the environment but are often present in plastic. If you want to be extra cautious about your health, look for phone cases that are free of these substances, offered by some brands.