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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kiosk From ecoATM Pays You For Used Phones

We all have old cell phones lying around collecting dust. Now, thanks to a new automated kiosk from ecoATM, you can recycle your old cell phone and get a reward for doing so. The self-serve eCycling station from ecoATM electronically inspects your phone, assigns it a real-time secondary market value, and then provides an in-store trade-up coupon or gift card (assuming the handset still has monetary worth). If your handset doesn't have any value, you can assign the device to the recycle bin where it will be recycled or refurbished.

ecoATM recently rolled out its first recycling kiosk at Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, NE. The company plans to install additional eCycling Stations at several national retailers over the next quarter in San Diego, Boston, Dallas, and Seattle. A more massive rollout is set for the second quarter of next year.

"The ecoATM makes it easy and convenient for our customers to trade-in and recycle their used mobile phones," said Jay Buchanan, Electronics Division Director, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Inc., America's Largest Home Furnishings Store. "This benefits both our customers and the environment."

The machines use a camera-based system to detect signs of wear including cracked screens, missing keys, and scuff marks. The cameras also help to determine an approximate value for the phone. Even if your phone isn't worth anything, you may still get a free gift—at the Nebraska Furniture Mart kiosk, for instance, you'll get a waterproof phone case for your efforts and ecoATM will plant a tree on your behalf.

"We are extremely pleased with the initial results and consumers' delight with the system," said Mark Bowles, CEO, ecoATM Inc. "ecoATM's solution finally makes it easy for consumers to give their used phones a second life or to recycle them. Over 100 million used, but still valuable, phones are quietly retired to closets and drawers each year in the US where they decay into zero value and then enter our landfills years later. Our automated ecoATM provides consumers and retailers an easy, convenient, incentivized method to convert those devices into real money instead of toxic waste."

Right now, the ecoATM only accepts phones but in the future, the kiosks should be able to accept and recognize other gadgets such as MP3 players, digital cameras, notebooks, printers, and storage devices.

ecoATM kiosk at Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, NE

For retailers, the ecoATM makes sense: the machines are installed for free and there are reward tie-ins and potential for increased foot traffic. "Consumer electronics retailers and their OEM partners are facing a complex and growing set of state and municipal eWaste laws. Consumer convenience is important to solving the eWaste problem in the U.S., and trade-in/trade-up incentive programs are proving to be quite effective in retail," said Leslie Hand, Research Director, IDC Retail Insights.