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We're all excited for the new iPhone. And even if it doesn't live up to every one of everyone's expectations, Apple's sure to sell a boatload of them over the days, weeks and months following its release.
Of course, many of those sales will be to existing iPhone users looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest, leaving behind a mountain of old handsets. Some, of course, will hit the second-hand market, but more than a few will end up in the garbage, adding to the estimated 350 million electronic items tossed out each year in the United States, according to DoSomething.org.
Kyle Wiens of iFixit, who has gone through more than his share of electronics, has seen it all before. "Most of the time when it's done and the battery wears out, they just throw it in the trash, and that's a really bad thing to do," he says.
But this time around, it won't be just iPhones that end up on the trash heap. If the rumors of a new dock connector are true--and we'd be shocked if they weren't--we won't be able to plug our shiny new phones into our old accessories anymore.
"I think it brings to light some of the concerns about our society and the way we consume things," Wiens says. "The moment it happens, you're going to have millions of pounds, probably hundreds of millions of pounds, of accessories that were made for the iPhone...where all of a sudden they're obsolete. Apple not providing a backwards-compatible plan is certainly a concern."
Even if Apple does offer an adapter, there's no assurance that it'll fit the old frame of that two-or three-year-old stereo. And just like iPhones, those shouldn't be tossed in the trash, either.
"One thing I caution people to realize is that if you have an iPhone case that has a battery in it or an alarm clock, that's all e-waste, and there are a lot of toxic chemicals inside all those accessories, so you can't just throw them in the trash or put them in a normal recycle bin," adds Wiens. "You have to recycle them responsibly."
And whether it's heading over to our local Apple Store to recycle or forking over a few extra bucks for an adapter, ultimately the burden falls on us. "Consumers are the ones left holding the bag. They've got all this toxic e-waste left over from the previous generation and they've got to go buy all new accessories," concludes Wiens.