Living in an age of rapidly developing technology and planned obsolescence, most of us can admit to still hanging on to a random assortment of old or broken electronics. Finding a place to recycle e-waste can be a bit of a hassle during a busy workweek, and attempting to regain a little of the money spent for our phones, tablets, and music players can lead to obsessively checking your email after posting twenty different Craigslist ads. Then along came the ecoATM.
Sitting in the Santa Maria Town Center is a novel new machine that can give you cash for your old gadgets in a matter of minutes. The ecoATM allows you to scan your gear, check its global market value, and safely deposit your mobile device. To ensure that the items are not lost or stolen, a valid ID and thumbprint scan is required for each transaction. All deposits are monitored by staff through two cameras, the serial number is extracted and stored, and all devices are held for 30 days before being sold for extra security.
Since its debut in 2011, the company estimates that only 1 out of every 4,000 units have been reported lost or stolen. Most people walk away with at least $25, but some can earn up to $300 for a smartphone in good condition. No personal information is ever taken from the gadgets, and all are either sold to a third party to be repurposed or recycled in facilities that are certified by R2 Solutions or e-stewards.
The inventor of the ecoATM, Mark Bowles was inspired to create his clean kiosk after observing the success of the Coinstar change machines. Seeing as the US trashes over 384 million units of e-waste each year, he knew that selling defunct electronics to refurbishers could mean big business. ABI research sees the market for electronic waste at $15 billion by the end of 2014. About 350 ecoATMs have been placed in 24 states, and Bowles has plans to expand to international markets as well as working on technology to also accept computers.
Now there is no excuse not to grab your gear and do a little e-cycling for some extra cash and an environmentally friendly way to dispose of your unwanted electronics.