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Will The iPhone 4S Lead To Huge Amounts Of iWaste? What Can Be Done?

iPhone 4S

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will have heard about Apple’s announcement and release of the iPhone 4S, complete with a longer battery life, faster processor, and fancy digital assistant, Siri. No doubt you’ve also heard of Steve Jobs’ unfortunate passing – may the man of extraordinary business accomplishments and tech vision rest in peace.

Now, the iPhone 4S (For Steve?) is available on Sprint, who’s finally hopped on the Apple bandwagon along with AT&T and Verizon. It’s only been about a year and a half since the release of the last iPhone, so of course it poses an issue for us green–tech lovers: will the new iPhone lead to obscene amounts of iWaste?

Between the new service provider option, the relatively long period between iPhone releases (for Apple), and Apple finally breaking silence on serious pollution problems within its Chinese supply chain, there’s little doubt that Apple will sell many millions of iPhones.

A massive 55 million iPhones have already been sold in the first three quarters of 2011, so imagine the number of customers that are going to dump their current plan and freshen it up with a shiny new iPhone. If a customer bought the latest version right when it came out 1.5 years ago, they’re pretty close to a window where it will be easy and inexpensive to upgrade to the new iPhone 4S.

Basically, even though it’s not an iPhone 5, there’s probably going to be an obscenely large number of iPhone 4S devices sold, and there’s likely to be a similarly obscene amount of yesterday’s phones sent to the landfill.

Fortunately, in case you don’t know, Apple does now have a Reuse and Recycling Program, as they should. The company states “Apple finds efficient ways to reuse and recycle electronic equipment, including iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC computers, and displays. You may even get an Apple Gift Card for your old equipment.”

Alternatively, because an iPhone bought only a year and a half ago still has reasonable resale value, and eBay just launched again this year their Instant Sale, you could cash in your current phone quickly to replace it with an iPhone 4S.

But what if you’re still using a two-year-old flip phone, or even worse, a chirp-chirping Nextel? You can’t exactly sell an item back to 2004, so it’s likely these phones will be thrown out like yesterday’s jam with little regard to the chemicals that seep into landfill soil from electronics. Fortunately, Apple will also take any manufacturer’s mobile phone for recycling.

You could also consider sending it to an e-waste company for safe disposal. CloudBlue and RedemTech allow you to donate your unwanted electronics for charitable and profitable benefits, and are therefore worth looking into to see what they can do for you. Take a look at their services before throwing your phone into the trash pile.

Until the whole electronics industry moves toward much more sustainable production processes, which could take some time, we’ll need to play our part in making sure our technology obsessions aren’t giving Mother Nature a serious migraine.

Will you be purchasing an iPhone 4S? What do you plan on doing with your old phone?

Image CC licensed by Renato Mitra: iPhone 4S

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