E-scrap and the iPhone 5

While the iPhone 5 has an available adapter, the new power and accessory port that will make it incompatible with many existing accessories, rendering millions of devices obsolete.

Whenever a new blockbuster product comes out – from tech leader Apple especially – there’s a run on the new product as everyone in America and the world rushes to obtain the latest greatest products. It’s already evident as pre-order delivery times have stretched from one week to two, and now three weeks and counting from the major mobile carriers.

With these blockbuster releases come a certain amount of planned obsolescence. Many people turn in older models or phones for recycling or disposal. With the new iPhone 5, however, there’s another wrinkle. Apple and its unique charging port have spawned millions of electronic gadgets – clock radios in hotel rooms with docking ports have become nearly ubiquitous, and an entire industry segment caters to all sorts of add-ons and gadgets for Apple’s marquee products.

In the last year, iPad, iPod and iPhone add-ons, including speakers, cases and power chargers, generated $2 billion in sales in the U.S. alone, according to the NPD Group, a research firm. (http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/136374-iphone-5-port-will-annoy-users)

With the iPhone 5, Apple changed the port style; it’s new ‘lightning port’ is much smaller than the old docking port. A $30 adapter is available that will connect most – but not all – of these old devices to new phones.

This isn’t an end-all, be-all solution – many people probably won’t bother, and businesses like hotels and fitness centers will be stuck with equipment that doesn’t work with the new technology. It could result in a mountain of obsolete electronics devices, all of which will need to be recycled properly and responsibly.

The U.S. has a robust electronics recycling industry, and it’s important to make sure all of these old add-ons and peripherals are sent through the legitimate electronics recycling infrastructure when their owners decide to upgrade.


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