Consumer electronics recycling kiosk company ecoATM has reason to celebrate this month, as the San Diego based group has secured a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, an official patent, and $14.4 million in Series A preferred stock-offering. The idea behind ecoATM is so smart that you’ll be upset that you didn’t think of it first – a recycling station that analyzes consumer electronics, judges the market-value, and then pays out to the original owner.
It’s no wonder why Coinstar, also the behind the DVD rental kiosk Redbox, decided to become one of the biggest purchasers of the ecoATM stock offering. With thousands of machines in place at some of the busiest stores across America, Coinstar has the distribution channels in place to give ecoATM a possible significant boost in the market. The idea is novel, but don’t start bringing out old cassette decks, alarm clocks, and VCRs, as the ecoATM specializes in namely cellphones and MP3 players.
It’s unlikely that many people discard MP3 players, but cellphones are another story. Think about it. How many cellphones do you have right now that are just sitting around in a box or drawer waiting to be recycled, donated, or destroyed? More than one? The machines offer, among payout options, gift-cards or donations to charitable organizations like Boys & Girls Club of America.
The NFS grant to ecoATM is to expand and refine its ability to decipher and test a wider range of electronic devices, which is good news for the company and consumers. And while it may be ultimately more financially beneficial for individuals to use sites like Craigslist or Ebay to purge older products, one should consider more human factors like time and ease. Even if an ecoATM doesn’t pay someone for their disposal, at the very least it gives people a place to safely recycle and erase their unused cellphone, and that’s a very good thing.