The age old question: What do you do with an old watch? You don’t want it in a drawer, adding clutter to your life. You also don’t want to throw it out, adding to the waste in landfills. But, throwing it in the recycling bin doesn’t feel right. Can you even recycle a watch? 

Well, yes, watches can be recycled. But it’s not as simple as cardboard packaging or paper. So let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

Women wearing a mini solar watch made with recycled materials

Why Should I Recycle My Watches?

Recycling your unworn and old watches is a small action that has a large impact on our environment.  It helps to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and reduces the need to source more raw materials for new watch production, saving energy and resources (a win-win!).

Many materials, like metals, are reusable resources that can be used in the manufacturing of new products. By recycling and reusing watch parts, we can help prevent the mining of new resources. 

Watch parts that can be recycled

Reusing and repurposing is not always an option, which is understandable. However, if that’s not the case, then yes, you’ll want to recycle your old watches.

The Environmental Impact of Watch Production

From the materials used in their production to the disposal of their components, watches undeniably impact our environment.

Unfortunately, not all watches are created sustainably equal. Many brands use shortcuts to lower costs, leaving a big impact on the environment and people.

In general, if not done sustainably, the fabrication of watches produces a crazy amount of waste. If metal scraps, used oil, packaging, and transportation material isn’t discarded properly, the environment gets the hardest hit.

Furthermore, the mining of raw materials gravely damages the environment from water, air pollution, soil degradation, deforestation, and landmass movements. These all affect ecosystems of forests, wildlife, and freshwater. 

For example, the mining of gold is a highly demanded resource within the watch industry. It is also a large contributor to greenhouse gases. The WWF estimates that just 1kg of gold mined is equivalent to anywhere between 8 to 46 flights from Zurich to New York.

The environmental impact of mining gold for watch production

Can a Watch Be Recycled?

The answer is yes, but it’s complicated. It depends on the watch itself (we know, uggh), as some watches contain materials that are difficult to recycle (like the battery), while others may have components that can be reused or repurposed.

When it comes to recycling watches, there’s a constant circle of questions; which parts of my watch can be recycled or upcycled? Where do I bring my old watches? What happens to the parts that can’t be recycled?

What Does The Process Look Like?

When a watch is recycled, it goes through a process that involves disassembling the watch, sorting its components, and then recycling them. The components are sorted into recyclable materials such as metals and plastics, which can be used to create new products.

The process of dismantling a watch

The process also includes cleaning the watch parts to remove dirt and dust that could contaminate other materials during recycling. This ensures that all of the materials used in the watch can be reused efficiently. 

How Do I Recycle My Watch?

If you’ve tried repairing, donating, gifting, or selling your old watches, here’s how you can properly and sustainably toss them. Look for watch recycling programs and facilities that specifically accept watches (it’s not easy, we know). 

Our advice? Unless your community has a recycling center that accepts watches, look into the watches you buy in the future and find ones made with recycled and recyclable materials (like Solios).

Recycle Your Watches At Solios

We knew the question of recycling watches would come up in our community, and recycling facilities and programs are not easy to find or get information from! So, you can send your old watches to us and be sure that they are taken care of in a sustainable way. 

Our watch recycling program is made so that getting rid of your unwanted watches is a stress free experience. We even give a voucher in return to say thanks for helping us move the industry to a greener future (easy-peasy).

ship your watch to our watch recycling program

Solios Watches