Home » The Visible & Invisible Plastic Wastes in Phones

The Visible & Invisible Plastic Wastes in Phones

by Nathan Zachary

With increasing awareness about sustainable living and environmentally friendly practices, the use of plastics is discouraged. Conscious individuals are against using plastics in everyday life. But we cannot forgo it on our smartphones. Are there plastics in the build of our phones? We know the answer, right? But what percentage of it is visibly and invisibly present on our phones? Let’s explore it right away!

When did Plastics Introduce In Phones?

With features like wireless charging and Power Share, manufacturers were forced to use more signal-transmitting materials, including glass, which resulted in a more delicate piece of hardware. As a result, smartphones swiftly rose to the status of high-end devices because of their array of intelligent features and glass casing.

At the flagship level, plastic-built phones have gradually decreased in number as makers strive for a more upscale appearance. Review sites criticized the Samsung Galaxy S5 for having a pimpled plastic back, and as a result, their head of design resigned in shame. The very glassy Galaxy S6 Edge that came afterward paved the path for the current generation of glass smartphones.

Why are Phones Made of Plastic?

Similar to any other business, the makers of smartphones are constantly looking for cheaper materials to use in their products. Polycarbonate is the most common plastic used in the construction of cell phones, and it provides original equipment makers with a fantastic opportunity to reduce costs. In addition, it is possible to combine different plastic kinds to build inner components, and it is possible to apply protective coatings to plastic to change the appearance and feel of external housing components.

Pros & Cons of Plastic Housing in Phones


1.   Recyclability

Polycarbonate is a sustainable material choice since it is entirely recyclable and reusable at the end of its useful life. The polycarbonate recycling process calls for the material to be processed, shredded, cleaned, and made into reusable granules.

2.   Freedom in Design

Designers have the opportunity to realize their most absurd conceptions because of the versatility of plastic, which can be molded into numerous shapes and painted in a variety of colors. There are multiple vibrant options available in the smartphone market; who can forget the old Nokia phones and the recent Nothing Phone (1)? Besides being lighter and more comfortable to hold in hand, cell phones with plastic backs are also more durable.

3.   Durability

Plastic can still break, but it can take much more damage before it breaks than glass. A phone with a plastic finish will be alright if you drop it on a hard surface, but a glass phone has a very high risk of shattering.

4.   Signals Transmission

Unlike metals, plastic can transmit radioactive wave signals without causing reception distortions.

5.   Costs of Manufacturing

The price that the end customer will pay will depend on how expensive it turns out to be for the manufacturer to produce a smartphone. The easier it is for designers to work with and create pieces with construction materials, the lower the final product cost.


1.   Low Quality

We all have the misconception that plastic objects are and feel cheap; however, this isn’t always the case. For example, a terrible plastic finish was employed on the Galaxy S III almost ten years ago. Today’sToday’s plastic-back smartphone models, like the Galaxy S20 For the OnePlus Nord, have undergone a complete makeover. However, they won’t have the same quality feel as glass-encased phones.

2.   Non-Biodegradable

Smartphones are 70-80% composed of plastic, and plastics are non-biodegradable. They cannot naturally decompose on their own. They get into landfills and stay there for decades, negatively impacting the environment. On the other hand, metal components get rusted and disintegrate.

3.   High Wear & Tear Risks

Plastic is not scratch-resistant and quickly wears off. It does not cast the sleek and neat look of the device, and the finishes are not stunning.

In A Nutshell

Since the pros outweigh the cons, it is essential to note that the material does not matter; somewhat, the usage matters. For example, if plastic is used in the middle of the smartphone, it impacts the phone’s structure. However, if the back panel and the buttons are made of plastic, it works as a protective layer to the internal components of the phone – and also provides cost-effectiveness.

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