A woman wearing a stripey top, holding a smartphone housed in a red phone case.

How to recycle your old phone case

There are 71.8 million mobile connections in the UK, which is 4.2 million more than the UK’s population.

From this data, we can assume most adults have at least one mobile phone, and many have a second connection — often a work phone.

As mobile phones are crucial to many of us and expensive to repair or replace, most are protected by a phone case.

On average, we change handsets every 21 months, which means we all buy a lot of phone cases — but how does this impact the environment?

Let’s discuss phone case waste and how it can be reduced or avoided.

Mobile phone cases

Phone cases are crucial for protecting expensive smartphones from accidental drops and have become a fashion accessory.

While some own one phone and one phone cover, others buy various cases to match their outfits and styles.

The average person will buy around 27 phone cases in their lifetime — from the age of 16 to 70.

Cases are now so prevalent there are over 3,000 factories dedicated to mobile phone case production in China alone.

That is inarguably a lot of plastic being produced and wasted.

Mobile phone case recycling

Mobile phone recycling is becoming more commonly discussed, but there needs to be more discussion about what happens to mobile phone cases when users upgrade their handset.

With so many mobile phones on the market, each a different shape and size, phone cases are often unique to just one mobile phone.

So, when you receive a new phone, what do you do with your old phone case? In truth, many people throw them in the bin.

Unfortunately, these covers don’t degrade in landfill, but will leak toxins into the environment for many years.

So, can mobile phone cases and covers be recycled?

The technology is available for mobile phone cases to be recycled, but it is challenging due to each case’s unique makeup, so recycling is still fairly rare.

However, Pela offers a phone case recycling service when you purchase a new case from them. The company sends out an envelope with every purchase, which the customer can place their old case in and post back to Pela.

If the old case is a Pela case, it either gets upcycled or composted — if it’s a plastic case from another brand, it is upcycled or recycled.

You can also send your old phone cases to Najture, who will reward you with a 15% discount on a replacement.

CASETiFY offers a similar service in the United States and elsewhere through TerraCycle but has yet to do so in the UK.

How to dispose of old mobile phone cases

You have other options if you are conscious of your environmental impact but find yourself with a phone case you no longer need.

A woman wearing a red dress, sat scrolling through her mobile phone while enjoying a take-out coffee.

Sell it

If your old phone case is still in good condition, why not sell it and make some money while giving your case a longer lifespan?

This option is incredibly successful if you bought an expensive or designer case.

Alternatively, if you are creative, you could turn your old case into a work of art and sell it as a unique piece.

Donate it

Does a friend need a new case for their phone? If so, great, gift your old one to them.

If not, donate your good quality phone case to your local charity shop, where they can sell it for profit.

Repurpose it

Instead of binning your case, keep it as a sponge holder next to the kitchen sink, a soap dish in the bathroom, or a trinket tray on your bedside table.

Another idea is to use your old phone cover as a luggage tag. Write your name and address inside the case with a marker pen, thread a ribbon through the camera hole, and you’re good to go.

Eco-friendly mobile phone cases

As mobile cases are currently hard to recycle, consider this when you next purchase.

More sustainable options are emerging, including compostable options and phone cases made from recycled ocean plastic.

Recycled phone cases

Buying a recycled plastic phone case is better for the environment, as it’s not made from virgin plastics.

Phone cases made from ocean plastic are also helping to clear plastic waste from our waters.

However, remember these cases are still made of plastic and will be hard to recycle once they reach the end of their working life.

Compostable phone cases

There is now a wide range of compostable phone covers on the market made from materials such as wheat straw, plant-based starches, sustainable wood, bamboo, cork, and coffee beans.

As the name suggests, these cases are biodegradable and can be composted once they have no life left in them.

However, it’s important to note that they must be composted and not sent to a landfill site, as they won’t be able to degrade in the same way under those conditions.


While recycling is on your mind, you can learn all about electronic waste recycling on the blog, too.

Published by

Lucy Ravenhall

Lucy is a long-standing editor of the Forge Recycling blog and loves writing about her environmental passions.

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