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Aside from the very brave and/or very steady-handed, phone cases are actually pretty indispensable. We are personally very well acquainted with the heartbreak of damaging a fairly new phone which might’ve otherwise been fine if only it had been protected with a decent phone case.
But like cell phones, they are everywhere. And with so many smartphone users on the planet, cell phone cases end up generating a lot of waste. That’s on top of the mounds of e-waste we are also generating every year. So are phone cases bad for the environment? What do we look for when shopping for an eco friendly phone case?
That’s what we’ll be looking into in this one, as well as some of our top picks for the best eco friendly phone cases out there, and how to get rid of old phone cases when the time comes to dispose of them. Let’s dive in!
Our top picks for eco friendly phone cases
Shopping for sustainable products can be a challenge. It's why we have certain criteria to help you make more informed decisions. When it comes to cell phone cases, there is a lot to consider. At the end of this article, we've got a bunch of great resources to help you get rid of your case responsibly, what's the environmental impact of phone cases, and what to be on the lookout for when you shop, especially where materials are concerned.
1. Pela Case
Pela Case (pronounced: pee-lah) focuses on creating products made from environmentally sensible materials, with the goal of creating a waste-free future. Founder Jeremy Lang spent years experimenting with different materials to find an alternative to the plastics that are filling up our oceans.
Find a wide range of products for different models for both Androids and iPhones. For the iPhone, you will find options down to the iPhone 5/5s and SE (2016). For Android, their selection features options for the Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, Huawei, and OnePlus. Customers love their cases and rave about their natural feel and performance.
Pela uses materials that are derived partially or completely from renewable sources like the straw left over from flax production, which reduced their reliance on fossil fuel-based resources and their carbon footprint. If you are wondering if Pela Case cases are really compostable, they are.
The brand also conducts ongoing tests to make sure that its products will break down without causing any harm. They are free from lead, cadmium, BPA, and phthalates too. A great option if you are looking for the best biodegradable phone cases.
Their compostable phones are manufactured in Canada and in China. And the flax shive used in their proprietary blend of polymers is sourced from Canada. In terms of certifications, Pela Case carries an ASTM certification which speaks to compostability as well as an ISO certification which speaks to international standards of operations.
Pela Case is a certified B corporation and offers a take-back program for its cases as well as old plastic cases. Old Pela cases are turned into a Pela product or into compost. Old conventional plastic cases are upcycled into a new Pela product or recycled. They also carry sunglasses and a range of other accessories.
MMORE offers five collections to choose from:
- Wood Collection
- Organika Collection
- Biodegradable Collection
- Personalized Collection
- Chakra Collection
Ever heard of an organic phone case? Well, MMORE’s Organika phone cases are just that and they are the first in the world to do this!
“From pasture to phone case” each one is made using real natural elements from nature like coffee beans, alpine hay, jasmine flowers, skeleton leaves, and lavender all of which are not printed but rather handpicked from all over the world, harvested fresh and then dried.
What’s really cool about these phone cases is the tactile experience you will have! The phone cases are not smooth, you can actually feel the ground coffee beans, very cool!
Their Organic and Wooden phone case frames are made from fully recyclable PU plastic made in an SGS-certified non-toxic production. The Organic materials are sustainably harvested and handpicked materials which are later protected with a non-toxic sugar-based resin. The Wooden cases are also made from sustainably harvested FSC-certified wood and are hand-oiled and protected with non-toxic completely natural oil.
For all their cases they have set up a recycling program where the customer sends back the used phone case and they recycle it properly. In exchange they receive a certificate and a discount code for -50% off their next order! Use code ECOHUB15 for 15% off.
CASETiFY is a major global tech accessories brand. They offer a wide selection of cases including options made from recycled materials for iPhone, Samsung, and Google devices.
Take the Custom Phone Case for example. It is available in 7 colors and made from 65% recycled and plant-based materials, including upcycled phone cases from their RECASETiFY program. The cases are manufactured in ISO14001-certified production facilities with rainwater collection and recycling systems. For shipping, 100% recyclable materials.
To customize cases, you can choose from different fonts using soy-based inks. Customers are very happy with their cases, praising their sturdiness and simple design. This case is also wireless charging compatible.
In terms of sustainability, CASETiFY focuses on using more sustainable materials and undertaking environmental initiatives like tree planting and carbon sequestration. They also offer a recycling program which is great because it may be difficult to recycle their cases otherwise.
Nimble offers cases made from recycled compact discs, using a material called polycarbonate. This is what CDs and DVDs are made from. They also offer cases made from plastic waste which is great for extending the life cycle of materials that would’ve otherwise wound up in a landfill. They also offer AirPod cases made from recycled silicone.
The Disc Cases made from recycled compact discs are completely clear and available for the iPhone 14, the iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the iPhone 14 Plus. It is wireless charging compatible, scratch resistant, and ships completely plastic-free. Definitely worth considering if you are looking for plastic-free phone cases.
Based on customer reviews these cases are durable and fit well on devices as advertised. If you reach for the MagSafe version for its wireless charging compatibility, it looks like you may need to purchase a MagSafe sticker as well, so keep that in mind.
Something else to note is that the buttons for the volume are a bit rigid on this model so if you foresee that being a little bit of an issue for you keep that in mind too. Overall, this is definitely something to consider, especially to translate the sleek, often completely covered look of our devices in their cases.
The brand itself is very focused on using a ton of recycled materials to make its products including recycled aluminum, recycled glass, and more. They offer a One-for-One Tech Recovery Project where a biodegradable bag is included with every product sold to help recycle old tech for free.
We absolutely love that because disposal is one of the stages least accounted for, most straining to deal with on the consumer side but also one of the most harmful for us and for the planet. Plus, all of their packaging is also 100% plastic free.
A Good Company touts the world’s first climate-positive mobile case. The brand guarantees that it is 100% organic and plant-based because they oversee every step of the production process.
Their most popular case is the Mobile Case Charcoal Black available for a wide number of iPhones and Samsung models. Based on reviews the case looks and feels great. It is not too bulky either, but those of us who are a little bit more on the clumsy side may find some issues with coverage and durability.
The cases are manufactured locally, in Sweden, in factories that are powered using clean energy. They also ensure that carbon emissions are offset, which is why they consider their case the first climate-positive phone case.
To be more specific their cases are made from the byproduct of linseed farming, and are 100% biodegradable. It is also Vegan Society certified.
You will find a range of options for iPhones (from iPhones 6 to the 14 Pro), Samsung, and a really cool #NOPLASTIC collection for a minimalist look that makes a statement. A Good Company is also a certified B corporation.
Kalibri is a Berlin-based brand offering beautiful minimalist-inspired phone cases for iPhones, Samsung, Google, Huawei, and other brands. They also offer other accessories like phone stands, computer desk holders, and more. Their phone cases are made from high quality materials including leather, wood/plastic, and straw/plastic.
Find a variety of colors, textures, and styles. More information could be provided about how these materials are manufactured and where they come from. More information could also be offered about where these products are made and by whom.
Some customers are very happy with their products, praising the look and feel of their Wheat Straw TPU cases. Others speak of receiving products that are not quite as advertised in terms of their look and how they fit their phones. Have a look at the reviews for the specific product you are looking to purchase where applicable.
Inbeage offers a selection of phone cases including Bio Case which is made from biodegradable materials. Find several color options including oatmeal beige, custard yellow, lilac-blue, and more.
Their Bio Cases are made from a blend of TPU and wheat straw that will degrade in between 3-5 years. They are also completely free from BPA, lead, cadmium, and phthalates.
Based on the reviews, customers are very happy with their Bio Cases. They fit phones well, look good and feel nice to the touch to some. The packaging used for shipping is all plastic-free, arriving in all cardboard instead which can be recycled curbside.
Customers also note that their cases are sturdy and offer good protection. Their design offers enhanced protection for phones with protracted lenses in particular. These are not recyclable but biodegradable phone cases which means they will not sit in a landfill for hundreds of years.
REVEAL focuses on offering eco-friendly, luxury tech accessories using materials like bamboo, cork, wood, and recycled fabrics made from post-consumer plastic bottles. The brand also gives back by donating to select non-profits and committing to planting a tree with every product sold. So far, they report having donated over $110,000 and counting.
Their selection includes a Walnut Laser Engraved Case, a Bamboo Laser Engraved Case, a Rome Cork Case, a Nara Bamboo or Wood Folio case to name a few. The wood laser engraved cases are reportedly sturdy, and not too bulky or heavy. They are also wireless charging compatible.
You’ll find options for iPhones ranging from the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 6 depending on the case. You will also find iPad cases, headphones, speakers, keyboards, cork or wood wireless chargers, and more. Additional information could be offered on where materials are sourced and where products are made.
Panda Blossoms offers biodegradable phone cases for iPhones, with options ranging from the iPhone 7 to the iPhone SE Gen 2022. They are made from wheat straw, biopolymer, and wood fiber, and ship in non-plastic recyclable packaging including paper, cardboard, and Kraft tape.
The option in white is made a little differently than the other cases which makes it 100% compostable. Because of its composition, the buttons may be a bit stiff to use at first but will loosen up over time and use. We would recommend making sure composting facilities will accept this case before disposing of them.
Customers are very happy with these cases, describing them as sturdy and fitting very well. They also feel nice to the touch, and look as advertised. Color options include black, pink, red, turquoise, dark green, and more.
How to get rid of your old phone case?
The best place to start thinking about disposal is when purchasing a phone case. We would recommend making sure that the phone case you purchase is easily recyclable and otherwise sustainably disposable based on what is available to you. If it is an option, shop for a new eco friendly phone case with a brand that offers a take-back program for their products and for products from other brands like Pela Case does.
You can also check with the manufacturer for old phone cases to see if they offer any recycling options or recommendations. There are recycling companies who offer paid services to dispose of all sorts of stuff for you too – including old phone cases.
If landfill or incineration are your only options, we would recommend shopping smart and choosing a new case you can keep for as long as possible.
If you are wondering about how to dispose of broken phones, there are better options than the landfill there too.
Are phone cases bad for the environment?
There are an estimated 6.37 billion smartphone users around the world and in the US about 79% of smartphone users outfit their devices with a case. A smart choice in our opinion but the thing is, most of these cases are produced without any concern for the environment. And unfortunately, they are equally consumed with little care for the environment.
This translates to a lot of cheap conventional products, most likely made from synthetic polymers like plastic, that are carelessly consumed and tossed in the trash by people all over the planet.
So what do we make of this where phone cases are indispensable but like much of what we do here, cause issues in terms of sustainability?
For starters, we would recommend reducing consumption as much as possible. While fun phone cases with different designs and colors are well… Fun — it is entirely unsustainable to be regularly switching out phone cases in the long term, especially if they are not being disposed of in a sustainable way. Even if they are made and disposed of as efficiently and sustainably as possible.
Next, we would recommend reaching for ethically produced phone cases. This is a great way of reducing the impact associated with the making and using of these products — from raw materials and manufacturing through to disposal.
Let’s have a look at what to consider when shopping for eco friendly phone cases
Here we’d recommend looking at materials, ethical sourcing, and corporate responsibility.
Where materials are concerned, keep an eye out for things that cause as little harm to the planet when they are manufactured and will go on to cause as little harm to the planet when they need to be disposed of.
Here it looks like the best options will be recycled materials like recycled PET or silicone. You will also find products made from cork, bamboo, leather, straw, and wood. There are some pros and cons to consider.
2. Ethical Sourcing
For ethical sourcing, look for ethically sourced materials certified by a third-party organization like FSC or the Global Recycling Standard (GRS) wherever possible. We also look for brands who do their best to ensure ethical working standards across their supply chain.
3. Corporate Responsibility
Corporate responsibility reflects the company's overall values which are reflected in actions like sustainable packaging, environmental initiatives, charitable works, and such. This can speak volumes about brands but beware of greenwashing.
A final word on eco friendly phone cases
Like most things sustainable, finding the best sustainable phone cases will depend on what your needs are and what is available to you. We always recommend checking the secondary market like we do with our favorite online thrift stores because using stuff that’s already been made is the most sustainable thing to do (unless it's deathly toxic of course!). That said, always remember to do your best and to shop as mindfully as you can. There are even lots of great sustainability apps out there to help you on your journey.
Don’t forget to check out the brand directory for any more sustainable living essentials and if this article was helpful for you and you think it can help someone else, please give it a share!