Kiosk-Based Solution to E-Waste May Contribute To Theft
We wrote in 2012 about the ecoATM, "…an automated self-serve kiosk system that uses patented, advanced machine vision, electronic diagnostics, and artificial intelligence to evaluate and buy-back used electronics directly from consumers for cash or store credit." Our focus then was post-collection recycling. Recently, EcoATM has been accused of facilitating the theft of e-devices. That a service encouraging e-gear recycling might inadvertently encourage e-gear theft demonstrates that Green ICT is not exempt from the so-called 'law of unintended consequences'.
The fear is that EcoATM's kiosks might represent a way to easily and quickly convert stolen gear to cash and thus encourage more theft. National Public Radio reported in September 2013, "…the automated kiosks, operating 650 machines in 40 states, are getting bad reviews from police, who are concerned the machines are a magnet for thieves…Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier is a vocal critic of the machines. Over the summer, she says her department's investigators traced 200 stolen cellphones to one ecoATM machine…in California, the Riverside City Council at the recommendation of its police chief…"
EcoATM's Law Enforcement page features a video, a "Law Enforcement Advisory Board", and descriptions of "…technology features and process to deter fencing of stolen items…"
Original April 2012 Post
What happens to the collected e-waste?
The company says it is "…actively involved in multiple standards and certifications bodies, are committed to the R2 and related ISO processes, and support the principles of the Basel Convention. ecoATM’s Environmental Policy is specifically designed to preclude issues such as dumping of toxic materials into the developing world by establishing patented advance diagnostic systems, audits of downstream vendors and market coordination to minimize product speculation and to maximize product reuse. Should materials be determined to be only marginally re-useful, we proactively destroy them and reclaim their materials to ensure maximized benefits to the environment and human health."
The ecoATM won a Eco-Design and Sustainable Technologies award at CES 2012.