Despite the slightly dubious name, the ecoATM is a smart piece of work. Like those Coinstar machines, the ecoATM
is designed to sit in grocery and big box stores, but rather than giving you cash for coins, it gives you cash for your old cell phone. You bring in an outdated handset, drop it in the machine, get a real-time estimate, and cash out for store credit or regular old multipurpose money.This gives people a way of recouping some value from their old phones and keeps the phones themselves from just being trashed (they're recycled or resold). E-waste is, after all, a problem
.The first machine went into operation in a huge Nebraska furniture-and-electronics store on September 21 and pulled in 23 phones on its first day. According to CNET
, San Diego, Texas, Washington state, and Vermont are next in line to get ecoATMs.
No word on what the payouts have been, but even if they're small, just having a convenient way to recycle electronics is plenty valuable itself.