How To Recycle Your Old Earbuds

Recycling your old earbuds is a great way to help preserve the environment. Instead of throwing them out in the trash and adding them to landfills, you can send them to a recycling center and have them disposed of responsibly.

Gather your earbuds.

If you’re ready to get rid of your old earbuds, you first need to gather them up.  If you have multiple pairs of earphones, one may be good enough for you to keep, while the others you can donate and recycle. You might even want to keep an extra pair just in case one breaks down on your next commute home from work.

Take inventory.

Before you begin the recycling process, take a moment to look at your old earbuds. You’ll want to identify the pieces in the package and how many there are. This can help you determine where you might be able to recycle them.

Next, check the packaging for a recycling symbol. If it has one, it’s easy! Bring them back to any participating store location, and they’ll take care of everything else. If there aren’t symbols on your package or no instructions that give specifics about what kind of materials make up your items, move on down this list until we find some answers!

Disassemble the earbuds.

Once you have removed the wires and earbuds, you can disassemble them. The first step is to remove any foam covering on your headphones. Take it off with your fingers if it’s a soft material like foam or cloth. If it’s hard plastic, use a knife to carefully cut away excess material so that none of it will be left on either side of where you want your new wire segment to sit.

Next, remove all six (or four) screws from each earbud casing using a small enough screwdriver but not too small. Otherwise, it won’t hold in place as well when attaching wires again later! Remove all eight screws from the outer casing if any are present. These are usually smaller than what holds the inner parts together because those aren’t meant primarily for structural integrity at all times.

Sort your earbuds into their parts.

Now that you’ve removed the wires from their casing, it’s time to sort your earbuds into their parts. You’ll want to group these items into separate containers, including:

  • The outer shell (or housing) of your earbuds
  • The inner speaker grille/diaphragm
  • The cord/wires (including any other connectors attached to them)

The Cable.

  • If the cable is a single wire that you can strip, you can recycle it with plastic.
  • If the cable is a braided fabric, it can be recycled with electronics.
  • If the cable is cloth-covered or fabric-covered, it can be recycled with textiles.

The Headphone Jack.

If you have a pair of headphones that use a jack, you can remove the jack and recycle it with electronics. If your earbuds are broken and therefore unusable, consider throwing them in with general waste.

The Earbud Part With The Wires Inside.

  • Remove the wires from the earbud part with the wires inside by pulling them straight out of their casing. Make sure you have a good grip on both ends of the wire, so you don’t break them in half when you pull them out but be gentle enough that they won’t rip or stretch too much.
  • Cut off any additional wires that aren’t necessary for your project and place them in your parts box for recycling later or throw them away if there are no other uses. 
  • If there’s a plastic piece holding everything together, remove it from its socket on either side of the plug and dispose of it properly. 


There are so many great things you can do with your old earbuds. You can repurpose them or recycle them in an environmentally friendly way and even have fun doing it! Whether you keep them or give them away, your next step is to take inventory of all the parts you will be working with before getting started. This will make it easier for you to sort through everything later on, so try not to miss anything!

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