Trading devices for dollars

Quoting The Economist December 2012 issue:

“The mobile-phone industry thrives on novelty”

The release of a new iPhone resembles a religious event, people camping outside Apple stores and sporting their latest device among craving friends. According to Recon Analytics, the average American phone is replaced every 22 months. Nothing wrong with wanting better, faster, smaller or bigger, but as we all know, our old used devices do not just disappear from Earth. Besides, these perfectly fine phones contain many rare-earth materials and other stuff we would better recycle (plastics, liquid crystals, nickel, lithium, cobalt, cadmium, zinc, copper, lead, mercury, beryllium, arsenic, brominated flame retardants, palladium, silver, tantalum, cadmium and antimony…)

But how?

ecoATM might have the solution. They want to make recycling electrical devices as convenient and habitual as recycling PET bottles. Throughout America they have deployed ATM-like devices that will automatically analyze cell phones, MP3 players, phone chargers etc. and give you an offer for it. The device on offer will be entered into an instant electronic auction. If the owner of the equipment accepts the offer, the ecoATM kiosk will trade the device for money.

Some phones are refurbished and sold in developing countries, or to insurance firms to replace a broken or stolen phone. Others are broken down and recycled.

The company has currently more than 100 machines in the US, and will expand to 300 as well as move into other countries this year. Check it out for yourself next time you buy a new phone!

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