1 billion plastic phone cases are purchased each year and subsequently tossed in the landfill. Enter Pela Case! The world's first 100% compostable phone case that won't end up in the landfill. But how does Pela Case stack up to the rest of the phone cases on the market? Is all the hype really worth it?
Pela Case is now the only phone case brand I will ever purchase from. In case you haven't yet jumped on board and switched to a compostable phone case, let me lay it out for you in this post.
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Before Pela Case, the only option we had was to purchase a plastic phone case or risk going caseless (and inevitably breaking our phones). This lead to a huge quantity of plastic waste being added to the landfill - ~1 billion phone cases worth each year!
Pela Case then entered the scene with a solution to the plastic waste problem. They created a phone case that's 100% compostable made from a material called Flax shive and plant based biopolymer. The manufacturing, distribution, and use of Pela Cases produces 25% less carbon emissions, uses 35% less water, and makes 70% less waste when compared with traditional plastic phone cases.
What are Pela Cases made of?
The best way to describe what Pela Cases are made of is simply for you to hear it from the source:
"The Pela Case is made of Flaxstic®, which is comprised of compostable bioplastic elastomer and flax straw materials. Our material has been tested to be safe and free of phthalates, BPA, cadmium and lead and is verified to meet child safety standards in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Our base material meets U.S. (ASTM D6400-04) and E.U. (EN 13432) standards for composting in an industrial composting facility and has a lower carbon footprint and lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional plastic. It can also be left to biodegrade in a home composting environment."
What does "compostable" mean?
In the case of Pela Case, "compostable" means that the phone case, when placed in the right conditions, will break back down into soil components such as nitrogen, oxygen, etc. that can then support plant life. It won't leave behind any toxic material or microplastic beads.
The trick is - when placed in the right conditions. We've talked about before how organic material like banana peels won't break down in the landfill, and Pela Case is no different. Placing your Pela Case in the landfill isn't going to let it compost.
In order for the phone case to break down, you'll need to place it into your backyard compost pile or an industrial compost facility. If you have curbside composting in your area, make sure to check locally to see if they accept compostable bioplastics such as from Pela Case as some do not.
What if I don't have access to a compost system?
If you don't have access to compost, there are a couple of things to consider when looking to get rid of your Pela Case.
Sell it/Gift it: This won't be helpful if your Pela Case is broken and truly beyond repair. But remember that even if you don't want your case any more or it no longer fits your phone, someone else out there might want it!
DON'T Recycle It: Compostable bioplastics should not be mixed in with recycling. Do NOT place it in your curbside recycling bin.
Send It Back to Pela Case: If you purchase your next phone case with Pela Case, it'll come in an envelope that also functions as a return envelope. If you place your old Pela Case in that envelope and send it back, they'll make sure to compost it for you!
Sustainability at Pela Case
In addition to making compostable phone cases, Pela Case also takes a variety of steps to make their business, as a whole, more sustainable. They are certified Climate Neutral which means they purchase verified carbon offsets every year to offset their entire carbon footprint as a company.
They also give back by participating in 1% for the Planet and are a certified B-Corp. Being a certified B-Corp means an outside agency evaluates Pela Case on everything from their working conditions, employee pay and benefits, manufacturing chain, and representation within their company. It's like putting a stamp on the values that many companies say they have but don't provide proof to back it up.
Phone Case Specs.
I've personally had my phone case for over a year and it's going strong. I purchased one two months ago for my fiancé as well - and he's fallen in love! He's a chronic phone dropper and regularly breaks his screen because of poor phone case coverage. No screen cracks yet for him!
The cost of a Pela Case is probably the biggest downside. At ~$40 ish dollars a piece, it is definitely more expensive than some of the really cheap plastic ones you can get.
That being said, Pela Case often has a sale where you can Buy 1, Get 1 Free so it cuts the cost in half! They started doing this when COVID hit to encourage people to regularly wash off their Pela Case and switch to the other one at regular intervals to avoid any potential contamination.
The other thing that might bring down the cost of getting a Pela Case would be snagging one secondhand. I've heard of it happening actually! Like any phone case, some people just don't want theirs and may try to sell it online. Check local listings before buying one brand new just in case.
Variety of Colors
Pela Case originally only made cases for iPhones but has quickly expanded to a variety of Androids as popularity grew. I can't speak for whether they provide all phone sizes but they definitely stock the newest versions (within a few generations) and the most popular companies.
The variety of colors is also expansive. You can get phone cases with just a solid color or ones that also have a pattern engraved on the back. I have a green solid Pela Case and Noah has a yellow one with bumblebees.
Texture & Grip
I, personally, think the texture of the Pela Case is one of it's greatest highlights! It's got a somewhat...hmmm...sticky? No. Rough? No. Rubbery? Maybe. The texture is honestly tricky to describe! The point is though, that it's not silky smooth like a plastic case which means it doesn't easily slip out of my hand. It also stays firmly in place in my pocket (even with the tiny pockets that come in women's jeans).
Some people have said that they don't like the texture. To each their own, I guess! But for me, it's an added bonus and definitely something my previous phone cases were missing.
Pela Case offers FREE shipping in the U.S. and Canada which is a huge plus. They also ship the phone cases in a simple cardboard envelope made from 100% recycled paper - and it's 100% recyclable and compostable.
Pela Case recycles your old phone case, too!
An added bonus of purchasing a phone case with Pela Case is that they'll take your old phone case to be recycled. It doesn't matter what your other phone case is made from or where you got it from - they'll take it! The package that your new phone case was sent in also functions as a return envelope for your old, broken phone case. Remember, if it's still usable, try giving it away or donating before sending it to Pela Case to be recycled!
Other Compostable Phone Case Companies
To be fair, there are other companies out there marketing 100% compostable phone cases besides just Pela Case. I've looked into some of them though and they just don't provide the certifications to back them up. Certifications can be expensive though so I fully recognize that other amazing companies may not have all the labels behind them and still be truly sustainable.
If you're looking into another phone company that markets itself and 100% compostable, make sure to ask these questions first to avoid getting sucked in by green washing:
Does the company show how the phone breaks down?
Does the company provide any certifications or outside organizations that have evaluated its claims?
Does the phone require only any industrial compost facility to break down rather than a backyard bin?
Does the company provide details of what "plant based" means, the percentage, and its impacts?
Conclusion: Pela Cases are the best in the bizz!
Do you have a Pela Case? How long has your Pela Case lasted? If you've looked into any other companies that offer 100% compostable phone cases and think they meet the greenwashing test, let us know!