Until now there have been limited options for recycling old cell phones—send it back to the manufacturer, send it to one of a number of Web sites that offer cash for your used electronics, or go to the cell-phone store and hand it over. EcoATM, an automated e-cycling station that just opened in the Nebraska Furniture Mart, is the easiest solution yet.
The ATM, which is the first station to be installed by San Diego startup EcoATM, identifies cell phones, gives them an estimated secondary market value, and provides payment in the form of cash or an in-store credit. In the event that the phone no longer holds value—if it's old or there are too many signs of wear—it heads to a recycling bin and a tree is planted in your name.
So far, Nebraska's EcoATM has been a hit, with 23 phones being recycled on its first day of operation in late September. The company's CEO, Eric Rosser, tweeted on Saturday that "The EcoATM is fast and easy, but even so there was a line today to recycle phones for $'s."
EcoATM is planning a larger rollout of the system later this year in San Diego, Texas, Washington state, and Vermont. Expect to see EcoATM's in big box stores around the country next year. In the future, the machines might be able to handle everything from MP3 players to laptops.
EcoATM doesn't charge stores for installation, so instead of scrambling to find a place to recycle old electronics, you'll be able to bring them to the local Wal-Mart, drop them off, get cash, and continue shopping with a few extra bucks in your pocket.