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Buying the iPhone 15 series? Don’t throw away your Lightning cables

Apple recently unveiled the iPhone 15 series. A major change in these new phones is the replacement of the Lightning port with a USB-C port. This move aligns the iPhone with the same USB-C standard that the majority of Android phones have been using for nearly a decade. While MacBooks, most iPads, and various other Apple products have already adopted USB-C, making Lightning ports a thing of the past, a significant portion of iPhone 15 buyers will now find themselves without any devices that use Lightning connectors. This situation raises a new concern: what to do with all those leftover Lightning cables.

If you’ve been using iPhones for a while, chances are you’ve amassed a collection of Lightning cables over the years. With the transition to the iPhone 15, you might think about just tossing them out. But hold on a second – let’s not do that. If the millions of people projected to buy the iPhone 15 follow suit, landfills all over the globe will be inundated with a sudden influx of discarded cables. So, here are a few things you can do with your Lightning cables.

Also Read: iPhone 15 Pro is not just a smartphone – it’s a new gaming console!

Give it to people using old Apple devices

The iPhone 15 now rocks USB-C ports, but there are still tons of old iPhones out there that are rocking the old Lightning ports. You likely know a bunch of folks with relatively recent iPhones who aren’t thinking of upgrading anytime soon. So, why not be a buddy and hand off your old cables to them?

It’s gonna take quite a while before everyone jumps on the USB-C iPhone bandwagon. The 2022 iPhone 14 series, which still rocks Lightning ports, will likely keep getting Apple’s software updates until at least 2028. Plus, the iPhone 13 and iPhone SE series are still hot and in the Apple store lineup. This means even if someone decides to snag a fresh Apple phone, there’s a chance they might still need those trusty Lightning cables.

Here’s a smart way to share your surplus Lightning cables: stash them by your front door. When your iPhone-toting pals or family drop by, simply check if they could use a cable. Mention how handy it is to have one in the car for Apple CarPlay and another in the backpack for unexpected situations. With this approach, you’ll likely clear out your cable collection in no time, probably within a few weeks.

Use adapters to extend Lightning cable’s life

If you’re not feeling like parting with your cables, you can always opt to purchase adapters. These handy gadgets will keep your cables compatible with your USB-C gadgets, including your trusty iPhone 15.

These adapters let you hook up a Lightning cable to a USB-C device for both charging and data transfer. Essentially, you attach this adapter to the Lightning end of your current cable, and voila, it’s ready to roll with USB-C-only devices. But it’s worth noting that these adapters are a no-go when it comes to using headphones – they’re strictly for power and data connections.

The lack of a single adapter that covers charging, data transfer, and audio complicates the Lightning cable recycling game. Plus, it means you’re in for a) shelling out some cash and b) potentially contributing to more waste down the road when those adapters become obsolete. So, our first choice would be to steer clear of this approach if possible. However, if you find yourself needing it, the products we’ve mentioned here are solid choices.

Also Read: Android System Intelligence explained: What is it and what are its uses

Lightning cable recycling program can be helpful

If you don’t have any iPhone-using pals in your circle, or you’re not up for the gradual cable giveaway, you might want to look into electronics recycling programs. The perk here is that you can offload your entire cable stash, along with any other unused gadgets, all at once.

If you’re in the United States, heading over to your nearby Best Buy is the simplest way to deal with recycling your Lightning cables. At every Best Buy store, you’ll find a recycling bin right near the entrance. They’re more than happy to take your Lightning cables, and anything else you’ve got lying around. Just toss it all into a plastic bag, and then pop the whole bag – cables and all – right into the recycling box. Best Buy will take it from there. It doesn’t get any more hassle-free than that.

Help reduce the e-waste

Of course, Apple resisted the idea at first, partly because selling extra Lightning cables was a big money-maker for them. They also argued that the concern about waste was off the mark, insisting that the rise of wireless charging would eventually render the cable issue irrelevant.

According to Ruediger Kuehr, who runs the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in Bonn, Germany, the world churns out approximately 66 million tons of electronic waste annually. Of that massive amount, he notes that charging cables make up a significant portion, weighing in at several hundred thousand tons.

“When we look to the pure numbers, it’s close to nothing,” Kuehr said. “But we nevertheless think it’s a very important step in order to make people … aware of the issue we are facing.”

Electronic waste, often referred to as e-waste, is becoming an increasingly serious issue, but it hasn’t fully grabbed the attention of the general public. The majority of this e-waste winds up in places it shouldn’t, like our closets and random junk drawers. Consequently, more mining is required to extract materials like copper, gold, and platinum for the production of new items.

The real deal here isn’t just whether the EU regulation directly reduces waste. The key thing is if it can nudge Apple and other manufacturers to step up and make it simpler to refurbish and recycle old products.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.