The recycling of the future

WASHINGTON : Just as we were getting used to ATMs that can read your check and tell you how much your deposit is worth, along comes something a lot more fancy.

The recycling of the future
The recycling of the future

EcoATM is from a California company. It offers kiosks that allow users to deposit their old cell phones and MP3 players, and recycle them in exchange for cash. Sixteen EcoATM kiosks are planned for North Carolina in an expansion, with plans for one at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham and University Mall in Chapel Hill.

The expanded offerings of the EcoATMs are the result of the new release of the iPhone 5. The company is hoping to capitalize on a number of iPhone fans upgrading to the new model and recycling the old ones. Once a user deposits a device into the kiosk, the EcoATM has the ability to evaluate the item and offer cash or even make a charitable donation. The user then has the option of accepting or refusing the offer.

Sounds pretty cool.

The constant upgrading of personal tech devices may appeal to some (not just early adopters, but also, it almost goes without saying, the technology companies that make so much money off of this behavior), and it certainly generates a great deal of economic activity. But it is appears nonsensical at times. How much of a true upgrade, really, is the iPhone 5 over the 4 or 4S?

The ability to recycle these devices makes this constant churn of upgrading a bit more palatable. And the number of companies offering such recycling is growing. Not only to wireless service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offer trade-in programs, but a number of public and private options are available, too. Some offer a bit of cash in exchange for devices, depending on what they are. Others make it work by greater volume, through business-to-business deals.

The Consumer Electronics Association offers resources for those looking to recycle. Recycling devices prevents potentially hazardous materials from being disposed of in landfills, can provide needed electronics for people who will benefit from them, and generate business for companies providing this environmentally friendly service. It’s a good thing all the way around.

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