Aided by a $40 million investment from a private equity firm, San Diego-based green tech company ecoATM announced plans to quickly increase the number of its consumer electronics buy-back kiosks around the country.
The company’s unique idea works similar to a self-serve coin counting machine. Customers place a used cell-phone or MP3 player into the test station, the machine assesses it for physical and software damage, then connects to the internet to determine the market price for devices in similar condition.
If the customer agrees to the buy-back price, the ecoATM kiosk immediately dispenses the cash, keeps the device and the transaction is complete. Customers can cancel the transaction and retrieve their device at any time during the process prior to final confirmation of the transaction. The company boasts a 60 percent reuse rate on the devices it collects and responsibly recycles the rest in accordance with ISO14001 compliance laws.
According to a press release, Tom Tullie, chairman and CEO of ecoATM says, “There’s still a large percentage of the country that doesn’t have access to a convenient recycling solution for their mobile phones and other personal portable electronic devices. We raised this money to help us deploy ecoATMs nationwide and help people recycle their old phones, tablets, or MP3 players, regardless of where they live.” There are currently approximately 300 kiosks around the US and the company hasn’t commented on how many additional machines it will need to reach its goal of nationwide availability.
The news comes on the heels of recent corporate decisions to begin accepting used tablets and to accelerate the placement last year of additional kiosks nationwide to accommodate the release of the iPhone 5. ecoATM estimates [PDF] that, at our current mobile device consumption rate, we could generate enough e-waste in the next 10 years to circle the globe twice. Put another way, more than 150 million mobile phones are shipped annually in the US alone. That would fill a train of box cars 20 miles long and it doesn’t even take computers, televisions, and other consumer electronics into account.
Kudos to ecoATM for coming up with an e-waste solution that doesn’t involve packing up your old devices, shipping them to a random location, crossing your fingers the package doesn’t go astray, then waiting weeks for a check you hope will arrive — not to mention the carbon footprint associate with mail carriers and shipping companies. Of course, customers may still need to motor their way to the nearest kiosk. However, many can be found in walking communities and all are located inside stores so hopefully responsible consumers will bundle their trip to an ecoATM with other errands to save fuel.
If you’re ready to turn in some old mobile devices, check the location finder to track down an ecoATM kiosk near you.
Have you ever participated in a consumer device buy-back program? Do you feel you got a good value for your recyclable? Let us know in the comments.