Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recycles Phones for Cash:EcoATM

California company has created an automated kiosk offering cash in exchange for mobile devices, an effort to ease recycling of mobile products and reduce waste.

About twice the size of a traditional ATM, ecoATM has a large touch screen, a metal tray and connecting cables that assess any used cellphone, MP3 player or tablet by scanning and testing its condition and operability. The machine then provides a quote based on what its global network of electronics recycling companies will likely pay to resell the used device.
The machine will also offer a dollar for any device not eligible for resale. These devices will be taken apart in an environmentally responsible way to extract valuable parts and metals. The machine also includes measures aimed at preventing thieves or repeat sellers, requiring a government-issued ID and a scan of a recycler's thumbprint.

"Almost everyone has a collection of used portable electronics stored somewhere," said Tom Tullie, chair and CEO of ecoATM, to Tech Week Europe. He added that his San Diego-based company's product is "a great example of technology solving a problem created by technology."
The mobile industry is making strides toward greener products and practices, as noted in last November's "Guide to Greener Electronics" published by Greenpeace. In addition, most phone carriers and various retailers do offer recycling programs for their customers, especially during National Cell Phone Recycling Week, as part of April's Earth Day activities.

But these programs are often limited and under-publicized, and generally don't offer money in return for old devices. And while any quote from ecoATM likely won't match what one could get selling a used handset on eBay, the kiosk does cut out the hassle of selling on the online auction site, which also levies hefty seller fees.

EcoATM unveiled its product at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and 50 such machines are already in use at grocery stores and malls in the company's home state. The company plans to roll out 500 more nationwide by the end of the year.

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