How Can I Properly Recycle my Disposable Headphones?

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, attended a museum exhibit listening tour or received a goody bag filled with giveaway items at a convention or trade show, chances are you are familiar with disposable headphones. These single-use headphones and earbuds are an affordable and sanitary alternative to their counterparts that were optimized for multiple uses, and are gaining in popularity at schools, gyms and libraries across America.

But what happens to disposable headphones once they’re, well, disposed of? In this article, we’ll learn how you can take an eco-friendly approach to single-use headphones and earbuds by ensuring that they are being recycled rather than crowding our landfills. Here are some ways you can dispose of your headphones responsibly, whether they’re disposable or just beyond repair.

Remove All Batteries Before Recycling

If your headphones have batteries, remove them before you recycle them. Batteries can be harmful to the environment if they end up in landfills. Most wireless headphones come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can be dangerous if not disposed of properly. These batteries contain toxic chemicals that can harm the environment and even pose a risk to human health if they end up in landfills or incinerators. 

By removing the batteries before recycling your headphones, you’re ensuring that they’ll be handled safely and responsibly by the recycling facility. Plus, many communities have specific guidelines for how to dispose of electronic waste (like old headphones), so taking out those pesky little cells beforehand can make things easier on everyone involved – including yourself! 

Check With Your Local Recycling Center

Not all recycling centers accept headphones, so it’s important to check with your local center before you bring them in. If your recycling center does not accept headphones or earbuds, you can connect with specialized electronic recycling companies in your area, though be aware that there may be a fee for this service. You can visit the Earth911 website to search for recycling centers in your area that specialize in electronic waste, or e-waste. Additionally, visit for headphone manufacturer-sponsored recycling programs. 

Choose to Reuse

If your headphones are still functional but you just don’t need them anymore, consider donating them to a local charity or thrift store instead of throwing them away. A number of places will accept working headphones and earbuds, which can then be given to people in need. If your headphones are not working, you still might be able to salvage them by contacting a headphone repair specialist in your area. 

Whether you no longer need an old pair of multi-use headphones or you’re just trying to rid your junk drawer of a bunch of pairs of disposable headphones, think twice before tossing them into your trash bin. With your help, we can keep headphones and earbuds out of our landfills and oceans and do our part to preserve our beautiful planet for future generations.