EcoATM Phone Recycling Kiosks Hit Bay Area Malls

More than $15 billion worth of cell phones are sitting in landfills.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Look for an ecoATM at your local mall if you're trying to recycle your old cell phone.

    For everyone who will be upgrading to a new phone this holiday season, there's a new and environmentally friendly way to get some quick cash out of your old model.

    The San Diego based company ecoATM has created a self-serve kiosk system that allows people to sell their old phones on the spot for cash. The kiosks were first introduced in Southern California malls, but can now been seen in several Bay Area shopping centers like Valley Fair, and Great Mall.

    Sellers simply insert their old phone into the kiosk, and EcoATM does the rest. Each machine is equipped with technology that identifies the make and model of a phone, and then automatically brings up the proper charger for the device. EcoATM is equipped with chargers that fit about 75 percent of phone models. The seller simply plugs their phone in to test if it is chargeable.  

    If  the machine isn't able to find a charger that fits your phone, you can skip that step of the process. 

    Based on the type of the phone and its condition, ecoATM quotes a price for it. Defects like broken screens or dead batteries can bring the price down. The seller can either accept the price and get cash from the machine on the spot, or reject the amount and get their phone back.

    You can also donate any amount of your phone's value to the charity of your choice, and ecoATM will send the money directly.

    To test out the system, we inserted a relatively new iphone 4 into the machine, and got a quote for $133. Comparatively, an old Motorola flip phone was worth a dismal $1.

    The entire process from start to finish took less than five minutes.
     
    If getting quick money for your old devices isn't incentive enough, sellers can also feel good about helping the environment.

    An ecoATM spokesperson says that more than one billion phones have piled up in landfills across the country, releasing toxic materials into the environment. Each phone is worth between $10-15 dollars, meaning almost $15 billion in phones has been thrown away.

    EcoATM resells the old phones to companies that refurbish them, or dismantles models that are no longer in demand for their metals and plastics.

    The company says all of the material from the phones is reused in some form. 

    To make sure that thieves don't try to use the machine to sell stolen phones, ecoATM is equipped with some fancy security settings. The machine takes pictures of you with a built in camera during your transaction, and also requires you to scan your drivers license and thumb. The information is only used if the company gets reports of a stolen phone.