Tuesday, April 17, 2012

e-Cycling Gets Smarter Thanks to San Diego Startup

With 40 million tons of e-waste being discarded annually around the world, the need for green solutions is becoming more and more apparent. ecoATM, a startup headquartered in San Diego, California, has stepped up to the challenge. Its answer: an automated e-cycling station of the same name, which makes recycling electronic gadgets as easy as pie.

The cupboard-sized machine, which was featured at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past January, allows consumers to exchange used devices for cash or credit. All you have to do is go to a kiosk and drop your mobile phone, MP3 player, or tablet into the machine. Using advanced, patented technology and artificial intelligence, the ecoATM will assess the value of your device based on real-time secondary market prices and give you a quote. If you accept, you get cash on the spot. Or, you can opt to receive store credit or make a charitable contribution.

According to ecoATM CEO Tom Tullie, 75 percent of the devices they collect at the kiosks are given a second life. For the remaining 25 percent that have no further use, the startup partners with recycling centers that possess Responsible Recycling (R2) or Basel Action Network (BAN) certifications. These establishments then reclaim the gadgets' raw materials and precious metals in an eco-friendly manner.

The winner of the Best Clean Tech Startup Crunchies award for 2011, ecoATM currently has about 50 kiosks scattered across the United States, with the majority situated in malls and grocery stores in California. The company plans to add 500 more locations by the end of this year.

The ecoATM e-cycling station, which has passed ISO14011 and R2 certifications, has been recognized by the United Nation's Low Carbon Leadership program as an innovative environmental solution. In addition, the kiosk has received CONNECT's Most Innovative Product award for 2009, among other honors.

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