How to reuse, repurpose, or recycle your old phone cases

CASETiFY Google Pixel 6 cases on a table
(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

There is always a reason to buy a new phone case. The color may be worn out, or you want something different to look at. Whatever the reason, you have another case in your drawer or, even worse, in the trash, which is not good for the planet.

You can keep the planet healthy by knowing how to reuse, repurpose, or recycle your old phone cases and give them a second chance. If you ever need to recycle or donate your old Android phone, there are steps you can take to do that, too. We've got you covered on what you can do with that unwanted phone case and how to avoid throwing it out.

Trade-in your old case

Pela 360 trade-in old phone cases program infographic.

(Image credit: Pela)

Plenty of the best phone and tablet case manufacturers offer excellent trade-in and recycling programs. Brands like Spigen, Incipio, and CASETiFY make it super easy to recycle your old covers.

In most situations, you print a label, pack your old phone case, and ship it off to the recycling program of your choice. Some companies, such as Pela, sweeten the pot by offering discounts on their products when you send in old cases. Saving the earth and your wallet at the same time sure sounds like a win-win situation.

We've gathered the most reliable sources for you to recycle your unusable old covers. Many of these companies partner with other entities to fulfill their sustainability mission. You'll notice that an organization called Close the Loop is quite popular with big-name brands such as Spigen and Incipio. Some manufacturers like CASETiFY and Pela have in-house departments handling recycling.

It doesn't matter who you choose, as long as you're an upstanding citizen of this planet we call home.

Repurpose with arts and crafts

Various S20 cases neatly arranged on a flat service.

(Image credit: Android Central)

If you're an artsy person, consider upcycling your old phone cover. By repurposing it, you can give it new life as something else. Craft projects require oddly shaped bits and bobbles, and your old case might be helpful in one.

Some fantastic ideas to convert your case include turning it into a soap holder for your bathroom or using it as a tray to hold small tidbits like pins and clips. A rectangular piece of plastic can be especially useful as a spare part for DIY projects like dioramas.

For example, you can use an old case to make a miniature house or items inside one. The shape and size make it the ideal material for constructing a wall or a roof, or you can glue some toothpicks together to create tiny beds, tables, or wardrobes. If you've got a clear case, it can be used as kid-friendly "glass" for small houses, garages, cars, coffee tables, buildings, and more.

Other craft ideas for your old case are out there; you must use your imagination. Cut and trim the cover to be a makeshift casing for a small handmade notebook or a backplate for a notepad. Wrap the case in felt and use it to hold your rings and jewelry. You can also turn your old phone case into a luggage tag since losing your luggage is so annoying and frustrating. 

There's also the option of turning it into a photo frame. Printing photos out like before is uncommon, but you can decorate your home with one of these artsy photo frames. Then, you can use the old phone case as a phone mount for your bike. When you're done riding, you can switch cases. I can go on and on, as can you. The sky's the limit!

Pro tip: Check out craft ideas on Pinterest if you're low on ideas.

Disposing biodegradable cases

Pela case

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi / Android Central)

Many companies make environmentally friendly phone accessories these days, but not many of them are biodegradable. Eco-friendly products use recycled materials, whereas biodegradable items are compostable.

Biodegradable or compostable cases are usually much more expensive than regular ones, but they are easy to dispose of without harming the environment. Pela is the most popular brand that makes such phone cases, but there are others, too. Incipio's Organicore lineup is certified compostable, as is the UAG Outback Series of cases and covers for phones and tablets.

There's a difference between a biodegradable phone case and a compostable one. If you've got something biodegradable, it is not necessarily compostable. After you've checked the facts on your old cover, move on to the next step. Biodegradable plastic cases that are also compostable can be thrown into your home compost. Everything else must be sent to the nearest industrial composting site for processing. Your local recycling center will also be able to handle this for you.

Donate to those in need

Incipio case for S23 Ultra on the phone and the box sitting next to it.

(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

All of the options so far discuss ratty old phone covers that are in bad shape. But what about cases that can still be used? There's no need to waste a perfectly good case that has plenty more to give.

We suggest cleaning it up and donating it to someone else who may not be able to afford one for themselves. Only consider this option if your cover is in excellent condition and usable. Don't grab an outdated old cover that is falling apart at the seams.

No matter how fresh the condition, cleaning up and sanitizing your old phone or tablet cover is essential before giving it away. Even if it looks as good as it did the day you got it, purging all the dead skin cells, bacteria, germs, and other debris that's been building upon it is essential. Remember, germs are invisible to the naked eye.

Remember that the cleaning process changes depending on the type of phone cover you've got. If it's leather, you can't clean it with the same materials you'd use on plastic. Read our in-depth cleaning guide to learn how to clean various types of phone cases. After the case is squeaky clean, drop it off at your nearest charity or donation center. Alternatively, you can also post ads online.

Namerah Saud Fatmi
Senior Editor — Accessories

Namerah enjoys geeking out over accessories, gadgets, and all sorts of smart tech. She spends her time guzzling coffee, writing, casual gaming, and cuddling with her furry best friends. Find her on Twitter @NamerahS.

  • gomezz
    I use a couple of my old candy bar phone cases for carrying my personal DAB radio and a small tube of sanitiser on my belt,