Can You Recycle iPhones & Other Apple Products? (Full Guide)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

A new version of the iPhone seems to come out yearly, and if you like to stay up with the latest technology, you are probably first in line to get the latest and greatest version. So, what do you end up doing with your old iPhone? 

Furthermore, you might be wondering if you’re able to recycle it? So, continue reading to find this out and more!

Can You Recycle iPhones & Apple Product Boxes?

The cardboard from Apple product boxes can be recycled with other cardboard items on recycling day. However, the plastic insert inside the boxes cannot be recycled as this plastic is made of polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC, which is dangerous for the environment.

There are electronic stores that will recycle your old iPhone for you, but you do not have the same convenience when it comes to recycling the box that your technology comes in. Read on for options on recycling the cardboard Apple product box, and more. 

How To Recycle iPhone And Other Apple Product Boxes

Recycling your iPhone is seamless, but recycling your Apple product box is a bit more tricky because of the materials it’s made of. 

On one hand, the box that carries your new phone is durable, tough, and meant to both protect your phone and last as a holder.  

Furthermore, the Apple product box can be recycled with your normal cardboard on trash day because it is also made of cardboard. 

This cardboard will be shredded at the recycling site, and then water and chemicals are added to the shredded mixture to remove anything on the cardboard. 

The cardboard is then made into sheets and ready to be reused. 

  • OPTIONAL: Use scissors or a knife to cut any tape that may be on the cardboard box. Get as much off as possible, although the cardboard will be accepted with labels and tape.
  • Your iPhone box could probably go into your recycle bin as in, but you may want to break up the larger cardboard boxes that contained iPads or laptops.
  • Make sure to remove the plastic inside, if applicable.
  • If any food-soiled the cardboard, make sure to cut it out before adding it to the trash.
  • Combine the cardboard from your Apple product with your other recyclable cardboard on trash day.  
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However, the plastic inside is a material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a synthetic plastic polymer that cannot be recycled. 

The chlorine gas and heavy metals inside PVC are poisonous, making it nearly impossible to be shredded using the process above and melted down safely into something new.  

These poisonous elements in PVC can be released into the ground and air, so you will want to properly dispose of the PVC plastic before recycling the cardboard parts of the Apple box. 

Therefore, the only option to handle the PVC plastic is to throw it in your garbage can so that it is not recycled and able to cause harm to the environment.  

Are iPhone And Other Apple Product Boxes Biodegradable? 

Are iPhone And Other Apple Product Boxes Biodegradable? 

The cardboard used in Apple product boxes is biodegradable and will naturally break down over time. 

Furthermore, recycling Apple product boxes should always be the number one priority, but if one of these boxes ended up in the environment they would not be seriously harmful. 

However, the PVC plastic contained within Apple product boxes is not biodegradable and should be disposed of in a trash bin. 

Since PVC plastic is not biodegradable, if it got recycled it would remain in the environment indefinitely and may end up being accidentally ingested by aquatic animals. 

Why Recycle Your Apple Product Boxes?

The Apple company is very environmentally conscious, fighting to stop mining on Earth to help combat the effects of climate change. 

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They have been working on developing their products entirely out of recycled materials, but this goal is difficult at best. 

Therefore, as of right now, you cannot recycle an iPhone using your waste company.   

However, recycling the cardboard that contains your Apple equipment is vital to the environment. 

Furthermore, when you recycle your Apple product boxes, it is used to make new cardboard boxes, downcycled into smaller forms of paperboard, like cereal boxes, and more. 

Why does this help the environment? It takes three tons of trees to make one ton of cardboard and recycling one ton of cardboard can eliminate nine cubic yards of space in a landfill.

Just think of how many trees and landfill space can be saved if every Apple product owner simply recycled their cardboard product boxes.

Additionally, you do not need to remove the tape and labels if it is difficult, as there are chemicals at the recycling plants that will do that for you.

How To Reuse And Upcycle Apple Product Boxes

If you do not want to recycle your Apple product boxes, you could do something called “upcycling” them. 

These boxes have a great look and are durable enough to have other functions beyond just packaging your iPhone, iPad, or other Apple product devices. 

So, when you accumulate the boxes, you can try reusing them around your home. 

When a Twitter thread suggested that iPhone users should scrap the product box it came in, saying you will not need it.

Since this happened, a dynamic social media discussion erupted and the tweet was retweeted more than 75,000 times and counting. 

What resulted were several creative uses for those Apple product boxes since the PVC insert cannot be recycled. 

  • Use it for storage of small items, like desk supplies
  • Prop up décor in a cabinet for better visuals
  • Make it into a business card holder
  • Put them in your desk drawer as a drawer organizer
  • Use it as a plant holder (yes, soil and water are fine for the cardboard!)
  • Make it into a bed for a small pet like a hamster
  • Break down the box and make a collage on your wall 
  • Reuse them by using them as a gift box (although the person may think you are giving them an Apple product!)
  • Use them for plants outside since they do not rust or corrode
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Furthermore, believe it or not, you can also resell the box on eBay, as they are currently going for around $10.00 a box. 

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle perfume bottles, whether you can recycle dog/cat food cans and bags, and whether you can recycle Q-tips.


The easiest way to recycle your iPhone is to drop it off at one of the locations near you that will handle the entire recycling process for you. You can also recycle the cardboard parts of your Apple box, just first remove the plastic insert that is made of the dangerous PVC material. 

So, the next time you buy a new Apple product, make sure to recycle the cardboard box and throw the plastic insert into the trash. By recycling your iPhone and other Apple product boxes, you will help preserve the environment and protect nearby ecosystems!


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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