'ecoATM' Dispenses Cash for Old Phones


ecoATM users wait in line to use the machine. The company recently announced it will expand its number of machines to 300. Photo: ecoATM

The release of the iPhone 5 might be exciting for Apple retailers and consumers alike, but with all of those new phones comes a question – what happens to the old ones?

A surge of iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s have found their way to plenty of auction sites like eBay and onto Craigslist since the iPhone 5’s September 21 release. Reselling a device a great way to ensure reuse and get a little cash in the process, but there are certainly consumers who don’t want to go through the effort of auctioning or listing their old phone.

One company wants the process to be as simple as heading to the ATM. EcoATM recently announced plans to expand its number of grocery store and mall-based cell phone recycling machines to 300 by the end of 2012.

“There are going to be millions of people buying the new iPhone 5. When they do, we want there to be an ecoATM nearby for them to cash in or recycle their old phones,” Tom Tullie, Chairman and CEO of ecoATM, said in a press release earlier this month. “With ecoATM, you don’t have to ship your phone off or wait to get a check in the mail — we pay cash on the spot.”

Recycling 101: Cell Phones

The machines assess the model and condition of phones and offer cash for old devices. To date, the machines have paid out millions of dollars for hundreds of thousands of cell phones, ecoATM said in the release.

Some old phones can get as much as $250 for recycling their device via ecoATM, according to the company. The iPhone 5 retails for between $199 and $299, depending on the version.

It isn’t just iPhones that will be discarded by the end of the year. A series of new Android devices will also be released before 2013, the predecessors of which will become unused. Android devices, old clamshell phones, MP3 players and more are also accepted by ecoATM. If a device isn’t worth any cash as deemed by the machine, users are given the option to donate their phone to be sure it’s properly recycled.

In 2009, a staggering 2.37 million short tons of e-waste entered the waste stream, according to the EPA. To find out how to recycle your cell phones and other e-waste, visit Earth911′s Recycling Directory or find an ecoATM location near you.

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