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Best eco-friendly iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cases

Best eco-friendly iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cases

This story is part of Tech for a Better World, stories about the diverse teams creating products, apps and services to improve our lives and society.

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.

It’s also worth noting that many of these cases are available for earlier iPhone models, including the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS, and many of those cases are discounted.

Read more: Best iPhone 12 and 12 Pro cases

David Carnoy/CNET

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 as low as 50% off ($13). However, now it’s $10 off, which still makes it a good deal.

It’s also available for the iPhone 12 Mini, but I didn’t see a listing for a version for the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

David Carnoy/CNET

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.

David Carnoy/CNET

Like the Torro case, Incipio’s Organicore cases 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 — and currently costs less.

Note that Amazon is discounting certain colors of the Organicore case  (the black version is a little more than $23), but the green version shown above isn’t on sale. Also, the Organicore is available in a iPhone 12 Pro Max version, but it costs more. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Casetify recently launched its new Ultra Compostable Cases. Compared to its earlier Conscious cases, this new eco model increases the drop-protection to 6.6 feet and is made with the 100% compostable, plant-based material Ecotify, the company’s proprietary blend of biopolymers, starch and bamboo grain.

Casetify also says the packaging is made of 100% sustainable, recycled and compostable materials including eco-friendly, nontoxic ink made from soybeans. The case has a raised edge design to protect the screens and is available in seven color options. The price is high at $50, but the case is customizable with personalization and prints.

Amazon

This is the only case on the list I haven’t yet tried, but the Amazon user reviews for it are positive and it costs only $9. Eplantita says its case is built from 100% biodegradable wheat straw and recyclable TPU. It fully covers your phone and has raised edges, so that should help with any face-down drops. It’s available in several color options.

David Carnoy/CNET

Lifeproof’s Wake case is made out of recycled ocean plastic (85% of it anyway). It’s attractively designed but I wouldn’t call it super tough — it isn’t enclosed at the bottom and has 6-foot drop protection. It comes in four color options, including this teal color, which I happen to like best because it you’re going to get a “green” case, it might as well be green. That said, note that the purple color is selling for only $23 on Amazon.

David Carnoy/CNET

I initially had Swedish-based 15:21‘s natural cork cases on this list, but they’re not so easy to buy in the US, and the similarly styled Woodpeckery cork cases cost a lot less. Note 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. 

On Amazon, you can only buy the iPhone 12 Mini and Max versions of the case. Perhaps the iPhone 12/12 Pro version will return to Amazon, but for now you can get them on Woodpeckery’s site

David Carnoy/CNET

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).

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