In the West, we casually throw away millions of tonnes in electronics and e-waste every year. Where does it end up?
Developing countries, landfills, water sources. E-waste toxic chemicals and pollutants find their way into the air, and entire landscapes (especially within developing areas) are covered in mounds of discarded machinery.
Once, I visited one in Africa. The smell was atrocious, there was something in the air which made my eyes sting. I watched people crawl over the hills of broken laptops, cardboard, metal and broken gadgets, scavenging for minute pieces of metal that could be sold on, or plastics to take to one of the recycling centers in town.
Sadly, the landscape was ruined, and the unwanted waste continued to arrive. Most of the time, I believe it is simply laziness or confusion within the Western general public as to what to do with their e-waste. However, if you make this process as easy as purchasing the groceries, hopefully more will be enticed to put their old gadgets to good use; rather than simply ending up placing them in a landfill.
That's where ecoATM comes in.
Developed by retailer Coinstar, these recycling stations, found in grocery stores and malls, allow anyone to walk in to the kiosk and have their items evaluated.
The machines electronically evaluate most consumer electronics; from MP3 players to tablets and mobiles -- and then offer the customer money based on market prices.
Customers can also choose to trade their unwanted items for store credit.
The CEO of ecoATM, Tom Tullie, told EarthTimes:
"We find a second life for about 75 percent of the used devices we collect at the kiosks. For the other 25 percent of devices that are truly at their end of life, we work with either R2-certified or BAN-certified recyclers who reclaim the raw materials and precious metals in an environmentally responsible way."
Currently, there are approximately 50 in use, and can be found in California. Coinstar hopes to expand this number to over 500 by the end of the year.
Image credit: ecoATM