Environmentally friendly smartphone cases are rapidly proliferating as more companies are making an effort to manufacture products out of recycled or biodegradable materials. And sometimes cases are made out of both recycled plastic and plant-based materials that are biodegradable.
Eco cases can look and feel slightly different from standard thermoplastic polyurethane, or TPU, cases — particularly the wooden ones — but most people wouldn’t even realize you were using an eco-friendly case unless you told them. Many offer good drop protection and all the cases on this list are compatible with wireless chargers.
Earth Day 2021 is April 22, and hopefully we’ll see some sales on eco-friendly cases at that time. It’s also worth noting that many of these cases are available for earlier models, including the and , and many of those cases are discounted.
While the Torro Eco Cover for the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro is made out of renewable plant-based raw material such as corn and cassava — no plastic is used — it feels similar to a firm plastic case and has a slight bit of grip to it. It also seems pretty protective and has raised edges to help protect your screen in the event you drop your phone face down. Torro says the Eco Cover is only biodegradable in a composting environment; you simply place it in your home compost bin and it’ll break down. This case was previously on sale for 50% off with an instant coupon code — we’re looking for that deal to return and will update this post if it does.
You know all those compact discs you no longer listen to? Nimble makes translucent iPhone cases out of them. They’re a little pricey at $40, but some of us like the idea of protecting the latest technology with recycled technology and don’t mind paying a little extra for that. They have antimicrobial protection, are scratch-resistant and aren’t supposed to turn yellow over time. While the Disc Case is slim, it’s rated for 6-foot drop protection. Use code CNET25 for 25% off any Disc Case, bringing the price down to $30.
Like the Torro case, Incipio’s Organicore cases are are made with 100% compostable and biodegradable materials and also have eco-friendly packaging. Organicore cases offer 8-foot drop protection and are available in three color options: black, natural and eucalyptus (pictured here). They look and feel similar to the Torro Eco Cover cases and it’s really a toss-up between the two brands. The Torro’s main advantage is that it comes in more eye-catching colors (the red and blue do pop), but both the Torro and Incipio currently share similar price tags.
The Organicore is available in a iPhone 12 Pro Max version, but it costs more ($40).
Incipio says that for the month of April (Earth Month), for every Incipio Organicore case purchased, Eden will plant five trees in areas around the world most affected by deforestation.
Swedish startup 15:21 makes natural cork cases and wallets that give your phone a unique look and feel. These are slim cases that aren’t incredibly protective, although the edges are raised slightly on the corners to help protect your screen from cracking should you drop it (other cases do offer more corner protection). Also, the bottom of the case covers half of the bottom of your phone rather than leaving it totally exposed, which is good. You can read the story behind the 15:21 company name here.
KerfCase has been making handmade wooden cases for a while, and its new Plywood case is not only more durable but less expensive than some, starting at $50, with 6-foot drop protection and a limited lifetime repair warranty. I like it better than other cases made of wood that I’ve tried. It’s also worth noting that Apple’s MagSafe charger will stick to the back of it, and KerfCase sells matching charging docks for the Apple MagSafe charger (yes, it’s an accessory for an accessory).
This is the only case on the list I haven’t yet tried, but the Amazon user reviews for it are positive and it only costs $7.50. Dalinba says its case is built from “65% biodegradable wheat straw fiber and 35% recyclable high-quality TPU” and has “no unpleasant smell.”
According to the company, the case is biodegradable by European standard EN 13432 and can completely disintegrate into carbon dioxide and water in three to five years without leaving toxic residues. It’s available in several color options.