Can you recycle headphones?

If you’re like us, you’ve probably gone through a few pairs of headphones over the years.  We added moisture-proof covers to ours and that’s improved their lifespan but we still have a drawer where anything electrical goes to die.

We don’t want to throw old tech into the bin but what is the alternative?

In 2019, The Independent reported the UN’s warning about a ‘tsunami of e-waste’: 50 million tons of electrical waste sitting in landfills around the world. This is ‘more than the weight of all commercial airlines ever made’ and the number is expected to double within the next 30 years.

As a society, we’re burning through electronics; it’s fast tech but many of us aren’t disposing of devices responsibly.


Can I throw electrical items in the bin?


You shouldn’t put electrical items in your bin.  This is because they contain materials which are hazardous to the environment and to human health. The GD Environmental website says that flatscreen TVs contain mercury. Other pieces of tech can also contain lead and arsenic. Anything with a lithium-ion battery can pose serious environmental and health concerns, too.

Companies which manufacture electrical items are legally required to provide the means of disposing that technology or to support local schemes which do.


Can I throw away old headphones?


Most headphones won’t contain the same hazardous materials as a flat-screen TV but they’re often made from plastic and this means it's bad for the environment. If you’re throwing away a pair of wired earbuds, then you’ll probably get away with it but we’d recommend looking at a way to dispose of them responsibly.  

Wireless headphones contain a Lithium-ion battery and they shouldn’t be thrown away in the rubbish as they’re classed as hazardous waste.  If they’re damaged or not fully discharged, they can start fires.

Check out whether your headphones have a symbol of a wheelie bin with a cross through it.  This means that it cannot be thrown into general waste and must be recycled.


Can you recycle headphones?


You can recycle headphones and we’d encourage you to do that.  You should check in your local area where to take electrical waste.  Your local council should be able to help with this but it’s often at your local recycling centre that will have the capacity to dispose of your headphones safely.

You can also check with the manufacturer who may be able to take the broken headphones back.  If this is the case for you, then you should be able to drop them into a local store or post them.

Some shops will also take broken technology for recycling.

How do you recycle Bose headphones?


Bose accepts batteries for recycling at its UK stores.  In the US, you can return wireless headphone batteries at stores in California. You’ll find more information on this section of the Bose website.


What to do with old apple earphones


You can recycle your apple earphones or headphones at Apple stores.


Can you recycle Beats headphones?


You can recycle your entire headphone unit with Beats


What about Jlab headphone recycling


You can send Jlab your headphones and they’ll then recycle them.  What’s more, they’ll even send you a 30% discount.

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of recycling headphones because then we’re more likely to send our bigger appliances for recycling rather than sending them to a landfill or leaving old kit in drawers and cupboards.  It’s a good time, too, to think about why your headphones have broken.

Common causes of headphone damage include wear and tear, cheap manufacturing elements, and moisture damage.  It can also be because of how you’re storing the headphones (especially wired ones) or if you’ve been careless with them. 

Whether you’ve spent £10 on earbuds or £1000 on headphones, it’s frustrating when you have to replace them.

We’d recommend looking for a reputable brand and checking reviews.  You can do this easily on Amazon or via third-party sites even if you end up walking into a store and buying one.  Sometimes even just spending £50 more can save money in the long run.  With such a huge range of choice from countless stores and websites, you can do your due diligence and get the most for your money out of your headphones.

We’d also recommend that you add moisture-resistant headphone covers to your earpads.  They protect against sweat and will keep your cushions free from makeup and facial oils.  They come in a range of awesome designs, too.

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