Written by Annie Tang

EcoATM, a company based in San Diego that produces self-serve eCycling stations, has recently raised $14.4 million in equity and debt to place new machines in more locations. 

The company’s machines are automated self-serve kiosks for gadget-owners to trade-up or sell back their old consumer electronics and mobile phones. EcoATM placed its first automated eCycling station in a large consumer electronics retailer in 2009 and continued to place more in various locations over the past two years. Now, with it’s $14.4 million round of financing, it is planning on adding hundreds of machines throughout the next year, and thousands the following year. 

With the amount of new electronics coming out every year and existing electronics becoming quickly outdated, e-waste is becoming a large problem. Each year, while Americans purchase roughly 500 million new consumer electronics, the product life-cycle of devices become shorter and shorter. A majority of the gadgets are still in good condition when the owners decide to retire them to upgrade to their next electronic device. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 18 percent of the 2.25 million tons of electronic products are recycled, with the remaining usually ending up in either landfills or desk drawers. EcoATMs encourage consumers to recycle their old devices, which probably would have otherwise found its way to a landfill, by allowing them to quickly exchange their electronics for cash and by making the process convenient and accessible.

The stations work by visually identifying the consumer’s electronic device once it is placed in the kiosk, and when confirmed they inspect the electronic and outer damage of the device to determine its real-time secondary market value. Based on this evaluation, the machine offers the user the price it will pay for the item. If the user agrees to the price, the machine collects the device and the owner is immediately compensated with cash, trade-up coupons, or gift cards. They may also choose to use it to make a charitable contribution. 

Phones and iPods have been the primary focus of the kiosks, but in October 2010 the company also added video game buy-back to its features. It plans on continuing to add categories to eventually reach its goal of creating a one-stop system to recycle a wide range of electronics.  



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