When Samsung announced the Galaxy S23 back at the beginning of February, it made a huge deal about sustainability. That “green” vibe seems to constantly pop up as the company’s official motivation behind many of its choices in recent years. “We’re not going to include a charger in the box to reduce e-waste and carbon emissions from transit!” “We’ve doubled the amount of recycled parts in our phones, look at us being eco-friendly!” “This case was made from Coke bottles!”

But, see, there’s another important aspect of sustainability’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” creed that Samsung completely ignores. The Galaxy S23 Ultra is 99.5% the same dimensions as the Galaxy S22 Ultra, so much so that you can even fit a Galaxy S23 Ultra into an old S22 Ultra case — but the camera and button placement is off by mere millimeters, and that’s just enough to make you need a new Galaxy S23 Ultra case, instead.

A poor, unused Galaxy S22 Ultra skin, sitting atop Daniel Bader’s Galaxy S23 Ultra

That may not seem like an actual problem; after all, we’re conditioned to buying a new case for every single phone we ever purchase. Even Apple has moved away from cases being able to fit multiple generations of iPhones, to the detriment of all. But when your phone is so goddamn similar to last year’s model that The Office’s “It’s the same picture” meme doesn’t go far enough, when you have the chance to save millions of pounds of often non-recyclable plastic from getting dumped in a landfill, and you choose NOT TO, don’t tell me you care about being eco-friendly.

The dirty little secret of phone cases

While smartphone buyers may be moving away from the “new year, new phone” mentality of upgrading phones every single generation, whether it ends up being after one year or five, whenever someone buys a new phone, that new phone needs a case, and the old phone’s cases go into the trash 19 times out of 20. If you trade in your phone — to the carrier, to the manufacturer, to a retailer like Best Buy — they specifically refuse to take the cases. Even if you go to donate a phone to programs supporting the homeless or veterans, chances are they aren’t interested in your cases. Even electronic recycling programs won’t take cases most of the time, and only want the phone/tablet itself.

The reason? Cases are often harder to recycle than phones.

Recyclers are able to break a phone down into its components to get the materials they want back out of it, like rare metals. However, cases combine different materials that may or may not be recyclable into one nearly impossible-to-disassemble piece. Even if a case is entirely “plastic,” some parts of it may be unable to be normally recycled, even while other parts are. And considering how inexpensive plastic is compared to exotic metals and electronic components, there’s less incentive for most e-waste programs to go to the effort of getting them sorted and recycled properly.

And that’s setting aside any specialty materials like leather, wood, metals, and the like, let alone anything like built-in screen protectors or adhesives.

Thankfully, it’s easier to recycle a case now than it was five years ago — when basically your only option was to throw it away — as nonprofits like Cell Phones for Soldiers and TerraCycle are taking more and more cases. Accessory makers like Pela Cases, Nimble, PopSockets, and Casetify are also accepting cases and case accessories to recycle and turn into new products through mail-in programs like ReCasetify and Pela 360.

This article was produced in partnership with Supcase, but its contents were not shown to the company beforehand. All content is written independently and meets Android Police’s stringent editorial standards.

Efforts like these are all consumer-focused, and you usually end up paying for shipping to get the cases to these programs. For the millions of pounds of plastic cases and plastic packaging sitting at retailers and in warehouses, that unsold product usually ends up straight up in the dumpster X months after Samsung stops selling it.

Apple accessories managed to somewhat avoid this waste, as iPhones would keep the same physical dimensions for 2-3 years and cases would work across multiple generations. This is still common among tablets, and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 and S8+ can use the same cases as the Tab S7/S7+. So why is this such a big ask from the company’s phones? Why on this climate-challenged planet would Samsung purposefully make the Galaxy S23 just barely different enough to require all-new cases?

If the cases fit both phones, users would have double the choices, case makers and sellers would be able to offer double the product selection (or just rebrand S22 Ultra cases as fitting both models), and Samsung would be able to tout the eco-friendliness of keeping millions of now-discontinued cases from becoming dumpster filler.

Die-hards who upgraded from the Galaxy S22 Ultra to the S23 Ultra would have been able to keep using their current case a bit longer and save some money while they sought out their quintessentially perfect Galaxy S23 Ultra case. But was that extra $50 from shoppers spending that preorder credit on a case really worth the headache of having these cases be visually identical, only to be off by less than a centimeter — and thus ruined?

Was it, Samsung?

Oh, and don’t think I forgot about you, Google! You tell us you picked a design you will stick with it for a couple of years; then you make the Pixel 7 series just different enough to require new cases. You better straighten up with the Pixel 8, you hear me??

Conclusion on If Samsung really cared about sustainability, S22 Ultra cases would fit the S23 Ultra

If you have any query let me know in comment section.