Phone cases have become a staple to accompany your new phone, ranging from muted minimalism to bright colors, personalized prints, and rabbit ears. However, the need for a new phone case increases with new phones coming every year in varying shapes, sizes, and port locations. Besides buying a new phone model, you may have damaged your old phone case. These scenarios raise the question of what to do with old phone cases?
As an environmentally-conscious person, you may be trying to figure out how to recycle your old phone cases or find a use for them once you're done. This ranges from situations where you switch an old phone case for a new one to damaged old cell phone cases. How can you keep old cell phone cases out of trash cans and the environment?
No matter the situation, there are practical ways to deal with old phone cases the same way we can deal with old phones. First of all, when it comes to replacing your old one, go for an eco-friendly phone case. Below, you’ll discover new ways to dispose of your old smartphone case while protecting the environment.
You might have an old phone case that’s still in good shape or one that isn’t very functional any more. Regardless, there are practical and creative ways to prevent waste from old phone cases. As you consider your next purchase, pay attention to properly handling the old ones. Here are some tips below:
Maybe you’ve switched out your old phone for a new one and are looking for the next phone case to buy. Or perhaps you just don’t use your old phone case anymore. Whatever the situation is, a good and sustainable way to dispose of old cell phone cases is through donating. If your old phone case is still in good condition, this offers multiple ways to deal with it.
On the one hand, you can decide to give your old phone cases to people around you. This could be friends, younger ones, or other family members that might need it. Even though you may be switching an old phone for a new one, people still use older phone models. Anyone with the same model as your old phone can find your old cell phone case useful. Simply ask around, and you just might find someone close to you who’s willing to take your old phone cases.
Various charity organizations are happy to take donated phones. Organizations such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill accept old cases and channel proceeds into good causes. There are also specific charities where you can drop off phones and phone cases.
In this scenario, it’s important to pay attention to gently-used phone cases so they can serve the greater good. No matter how old you think the phone case model is.
When you donate, you don’t only keep plastic and other materials out of the environment but also help the less fortunate. So, if you’re less concerned about making money from an old phone case, why not donate it? So, look out for your local second-hand store, specific charities, and general charitable organizations that accept phone cases. Some online thrift stores may also accept higher-end phone cases with a resale value.
If you want to make extra money from your phone cases, you can try selling them. In this case, however, you’ll most likely only get quick sales if the phone cases you’re selling are not too old. Your best bet is to set up a store in places like Facebook Marketplace and eBay.
First of all, the phone cases you want to sell should be in good and functional condition. This will especially work better for heavy-duty phone cases with strong materials that can stand the test of time and a worth a bit at resale.
Also, you have a better chance of selling phone cases from phone models that are not over two generations old. In such a situation, you can easily find people still using such models whom you can sell to. Although you may not get much money when selling your phone cases, a little cash is better than none.
Many people are enthusiastic about the second-hand market. With the growing awareness around sustainable practices, it’s not impossible to find that most people who’ll buy thrifted clothes will also buy thrifted cases. This exchange allows people to find cases to protect their phones while reducing their environmental impact.
Whether switching your phone brand or upgrading the model, there are numerous ways to reduce waste. Looking to reduce waste from your old cases in a creative way? Why not try upcycling or repurposing?
Apart from getting rid of your old case by sending it out of your home, you can take on creative ideas. When you get a new case to protect your phone, it’s easy to think that the only way to deal with an old one is out of the home.
However, people are picking up new ideas to express their creativity while staying eco-friendly. Regardless of the material your old cases are made of, you can try some creative ideas to repurpose them. You can find some of these eco-friendly ideas below:
Soap dishes from phone cases aren’t exactly the most common items you’d find in a home. If you’re feeling creative, one of the ways to reduce phone case waste is to repurpose it into a soap dish. As a result, this gives you something to admire in your home as part of your sustainable or eco-friendly journey.
This repurposing idea is simple and requires no special process. As long as your old phone cases are still in reasonably good condition, they should be able to hold zero-waste dish bar soap or zero-waste hand soap. Some of these may even have non-slip grips perfect for the bathroom.
When traveling the eco-friendly way, one of the most important things to put in place is easy identification of your luggage. With thousands of people traveling simultaneously, having a tag makes it easier to locate your sustainable luggage bags.
Instead of purchasing special products for this, why not get creative? An old case can become a makeshift tag in such a situation. Simply pass a ribbon through the camera hole, paste a business card or card with your information on the case, and attach it to your luggage. This aids in reducing waste while adopting a practical way to identify luggage.
The possibilities are endless with repurposing and upcycling. For example, other ideas include turning your case into a tray for eco-friendly candles or a dish for small jewelry items.
Instead of getting surfaces wet with your damp kitchen sponge, you can turn your old phone case into a sponge holder. This reduces the need to purchase new sponge trays and gives you something unique to store damp sponges. This requires no special process.
Apart from the ideas above, you might be looking to recycle your phone cases. This raises the question of if recycling phone cases is possible.
Phones come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Manufacturers and brands also use different materials to make these cases. These days, phone cases come in trendy designs that include add-ons. Such embellishments include glitters, sequins, and beads. As a result, it becomes difficult to place cases in specific categories of materials.
These factors have made it difficult and nearly impossible to recycle phone cases. Most municipal recycling programs won’t accept phone cases for recycling. This is a result of the hard-to-recycle materials that many cases come in.
In this light, avoid tossing your cases in the recycling bin. Regardless, special recycling programs exist to handle this issue. Some companies have also developed in-house recycling programs as part of their sustainability efforts. This ensures that the life cycle of their products has minimal impact.
TerraCycle and PopSockets are in partnership to create a free national recycling program. TerraCycle is one of the most popular recycling companies in the United States. Through this partnership with PopSockets, a phone accessories brand, they reduce accessories trash and help sustain the life of old products.
The process of recycling is quite simple. You need first to request a shipping label from TerraCycle. The company makes it easy to sign up for a free mailing label. Next, wrap your phone cases and drop them in the mail. As a consumer, you can recycle PopSockets products, packaging, and cases from any brand.
Casetify is a phone accessories brand that has a program called ReCasetify. The aim is to divert plastic from landfills. Through the program, this brand safely disposes of phone cases through TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box initiative. Best of all, you get 15% off your next Casetify phone case order. This program is available only in Hong Kong, the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
Pela Case is popular for its compostable, eco-friendly cases. Pela Case has taken full responsibility for the life cycle of its products. In this light, you can send your old Pela Case products for recycling.
When you buy a new item from the company, you receive an extra envelope to send your old phone case. This could be one from the company or a convenient plastic case. Put the case in the envelope, stamp it and send it in the mail. Plastic cases will either be upcycled or recycled. The company will either compost it or upcycle it into a new item.
Phone cases are popular accessories to buy along with new phones. As a result, it’s easy to go through a conventional plastic case each time you switch to newer phone models. You can begin to properly dispose of your old phone cases using the methods in this piece. And consider purchasing eco-friendly cases for your new devices. This will help reduce waste from plastic and other phone case materials.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.