Can You Recycle Phone Cases? (And Ways To Dispose of)

Phone cases come in different shapes, sizes and colors. It also helps that they come in handy in protecting our phones. For example, a good case has protected many phones from developing severe cracks after slipping or falling from reasonable heights.

In addition, phone cases are exceptional and trendy items that give your phone an aesthetically appealing look. It’s little wonder that most people have quite the collection already. Several designs are too eye-catching to ignore. So, phone cases are excellent functional and aesthetic items.

They’re made from different materials, which means yours could be plastic, leather, rubber, or even wood. Some even contain elements of glass in them.

Well, if you’re like a ton of other people who love aesthetics and functionality, then you likely have your collection of phone cases. But, of course, you can’t hold on to your phone cases forever, which means you’ll eventually have to dispose of them. Read on to find out if you can recycle phone cases and other environmentally sustainable ways to dispose of them. Let’s get started.

Are Phone Cases Recyclable?

Plain phone cases hardly exist anymore. Instead, it seems like each phone case maker is looking for ways to outdo others, stand out and make unique designs. That’s why it’s not uncommon to find various colors, phone case materials, shapes, sizes, and add-ons.

These add-ons can be sequins, beads, glitters, even down to other attached items. As such, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to recycle phone cases. In addition, the mix of materials will make it difficult to find a recycling category for them.

However, some recycling companies are taking it upon themselves to make provisions for recycling phone cases, no matter how tricky it seems. Of course, you can’t take your phone case down to a local recycling center for obvious reasons. But you’ll still need environmentally friendly ways to dispose of them.

So, we’ll provide a few companies you can rely on for this feat. They include TerraCycle, Recasetify, Pela Case, and Case-Mate, to name a few.

Are Phone Cases Bad For the Environment?

As we mentioned earlier, phone cases come in an array of materials. So, determining if they’re bad for the environment entirely depends on the materials they’re made from.

Now, let’s start with plastic. Plastic is one of the most common materials for making phone cases. It’s made from non-renewable resources like coal, crude oil, cellulose and natural gas, to name a few.

Plastic typically isn’t an environmentally friendly material from the start of the production process down to the disposal method. You see, plastic requires a long production process that consumes a lot of energy and fuel.

During the manufacturing stages, burnt fossils are released into the atmosphere, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. In addition, fossils aren’t renewable, which means that the production of plastic is eating into our available resources.

Now, another problem is the disposal method for chemical waste from plastic production. More often than not, these chemicals aren’t well disposed of, and they end up polluting the environment.

The pollution extends from land pollution down to water pollution, which has a bad effect on marine life.

Let’s also talk about disposing of unwanted plastic cases. Again, recycling is an option, but it could be another problem if it’s not prioritized.

Plastic doesn’t decompose, which means it’ll simply sit on our landfills for about centuries or even more. Unfortunately, microorganisms can’t break plastic down, so the phone case will have to rely on time and harsh weather conditions to break it down.

It’ll release harmful toxins into the atmosphere and soil during the process, thereby causing further damage. However, it gets worse.

Even when plastic finally decomposes, there will always be microplastics left behind. We can find them in the soil, water bodies, and virtually everywhere. As a result, plastic can be dangerous if it’s not properly disposed of.

Leather is also another material used to make phone cases. It’s also bad for the environment because of what it’s made from and its production process. Leather is made from animal hide, and it goes through a lot of altercations to achieve its physical composition.

The production process results in the loss of biodiversity, deforestation, and the emission of greenhouse gases. The tanning process can also harm the environment.

Now, a friendlier option is rubber. It’s made by extracting latex from trees, and this process doesn’t result in deforestation. The latex is then heated, and the thick substance that later becomes rubber is skimmed off the top.

Beyond its production process, rubber is biodegradable, and its decomposition process won’t negatively impact the environment. It’s also very sustainable and can be recycled.

Can You Paint a Phone Case With Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint that becomes water-resistant when it dries. It produces a mesmerizing result, and it also helps that there’s an array of colors available.

So, that makes it an excellent option for a phone case DIY. However, can you paint your phone case with it and expect mesmerizing results?

Absolutely. If you’ve been searching for the perfect phone case design, you can create it yourself, and acrylic paint will serve you well. However, if you want to enjoy the result, you’ll have to take caution throughout the entire process. You also need to seal and prime it properly for long-lasting results.

For this hack, you’ll need a paintbrush, some acrylic paint, and scotch tape. Now, let’s walk you through the process in four short steps.

Step 1: Prepare the Phone Case

You have to prepare the phone case to make the paint more adhesive. To do that, you can wipe the case with a piece of cotton wool and rubbing alcohol. It’ll also remove all the dirt and grime that would otherwise prevent the paint from sticking firmly to the phone case.

Step 2: Add a Primer

If you want a smooth surface that’s easy to work with, you can apply a light coat of primer on the phone case. Ensure you use a good quality primer for best results. It also helps your acrylic colors pop.

Step 3: Paint Your Case

Now, it’s time to put your artistic skills to work. It’s usually best to use a see-through case so you can paint the inside. It’ll protect your artsy project from harsh elements and also from getting scratched or peeled off.

However, if you’re using a transparent case, that means you’ll apply your primer on the internal part. You can use Pinterest as an inspiration source for artsy designs.

Step 4: Spruce it Up!

Since you’re artistic, you might as well go all in. Once you’re done painting your phone case, you can add extras like sequins, glitters, beads, and even cut-out stickers.

Can You Paint a Phone Case With Nail Polish?

There’s nothing like a personalized phone case – you’ll be the only one sporting that unique design you’ve come up with. DIY phone case designs are also easy to attain; there’s no right or wrong because the pattern is entirely yours.

Well, while acrylic polish is a way to go, another option is to use nail polish. The latter may be a better choice because it’s less likely to peel off as it’s enamel-based. Again, however, it’s best to avoid using gel nail polish.

You can paint the internal or external part of your case, but if you go for the latter, you’ll have to put a top coat on it to prevent your design from fading.

After achieving your desired design, allow the paint to dry properly for about two hours. Then finally, you’ll have yourself a unique phone case.

How Do You Dispose of Old Phone Cases?

While getting rid of an item that’s been in your possession isn’t always easy, it’s sometimes inevitable. You may have outgrown it, or your desire for a newer version could out-shadow every other thing.

Well, if you have to dispose of your old phone cases, here are a few tips to do so in an environmentally positive way:

1. Upcycling Ideas

Upcycling is always an excellent choice. It allows you to get a couple of more uses from the material you want to dispose of. Essentially, upcycling is finding innovative ways to put an unwanted material to use.

Now, here are a few you can consider for phone cases:

2. Coasters

Phone cases make perfect coasters. If you’re like many other people who hate seeing rings from drinks on their coffee table, then you can save yourself a trip to the store by using your old phone cases as makeshift coaster rings.

More often than not, they’ll be a tight fit for the glass cups. Also, since the phone cases are made from plastic or waterproof materials, they’ll perfectly catch the condensation or water rings.

3. Soap Holders

Soap cases are great, but the ones that aren’t perforated can be a bother. They can retain the water trapped in your case and cause your soap to melt. Now, no one likes melted soap.

So, instead of throwing out your old phone case, you can use it as a soap holder instead. There are enough holes in a phone case to properly drain any excess water your new soap case collects.

You can turn the perforated holes for the camera to the direction of your sink or just about anywhere water can easily flow out and down the drain. So there you go – a perfect soap case that saves you a trip to the store. You’ll never have to worry about slimy soap again!

4. Sponge Holders

Now, this hack is better for kitchen sponges for obvious reasons. A kitchen sponge will fit right into an old phone case.

The best part is that there are also enough holes for the extra water in the sponge to dry out before the next time you have to use it.

5. Sell It

If you’re changing your phone case because you got a new phone and the old case just won’t fit, then it’s likely your old one is still in good condition. Well, if that’s the case (no pun intended), then you can sell the old one for some extra money.

You can either sell it to a friend, a phone sale and repair store or even put it up for sale online. Some websites facilitate sales like this, and they aren’t difficult to find.

6. Donate It

Alternatively, you could donate the phone case. Ensure you clean it properly and put it in its most presentable condition.

Then, you can take it down to Salvation Army, Savers, or Goodwill. There are also many other charitable organizations to which you can donate the cases.


It’s not uncommon to amass a collection of eye-catchy phone cases. However, there are several reasons you may need to let them go eventually. That’s not a problem, as long as you’re doing it in a way that won’t harm the environment.

We’ve provided a few tips to get started, so please read up and make informed decisions from now on.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.