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Pros, cons of using ecoATM machines for electronic recycling, money back

This ecoATM is located on the second floor in Lincolnwood Town Center in Lincolnwood, Ill.
Shamontiel L. Vaughn

ecoATM machines


Consumers can barely walk out of their cell phone providers’ stores before their “new” Smartphones are outdated. The tweaks to mobile devices, mp3 players, iPods and tablets have grown into an overwhelmingly profitable business. Techies are about equal to fashionistas keeping up with the latest clothing trends. And just like the issues with CO2 from textile wastes in landfills, electronics wastes are also making green consumers cringe.

Retail stores, such as Best Buy and Target, have bins to dump used and nonworking electronics inside. But what about those consumers who paid good money for their appliances and want to get some kind of compensation instead of just getting rid of their old phones, mp3 players and tablets? ecoATM is trying to help consumers make a profit and help the environment at the same time.

According to, mobile phones are toxic due to arsenic, lithium, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc that are inside of the phones. When these poisonous raw materials end up in landfills, they can blend into groundwater, contaminate soil, and affect the food chain and wildlife.

Does that make you think twice about throwing your electronics in the garbage? Hope so.

According to ecoATM’s site, they’re the world’s first automated eWaste recycling station that will pay cash for responsible recycling of electronics. After finding a local drop-off location, consumers walk right up to the machines, enter their license (for security purposes), agree to be filmed in the ecoATM’s internal camera and place their electronics into the scanning area. (Even electronics that no longer have working batteries can be recycled.) ecoATM then looks up the item, users choose the scanned product and find out how much they’ll get back for recycling it.

The downside of the machine is some brands (ex. Insignia) aren’t recognized. Shoppers can check pricing ahead of time by looking their items up on the “Devices” tab. Other brands may be too old to recycle, but ecoATM gives users the option to donate the electronics anyway for funds to be disbursed to a charitable organization instead.

Accessories and rejected phones can be dropped off into the side pockets of each ecoATM machine.

For appliances that can’t be reused, ecoATM’s site confirms that it partners with “limited” e-waste recyclers who extract precious metal and spare parts from these electronics before properly disposing of them.

This entry was originally written by Shamontiel on May 19 for a recycling company and is republished with her permission on Examiner.

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