ecoATM Continues to Increase Device Reuse/Recycling

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." In 2013, we noted the EcoATM concept had been accused of facilitating the theft of e-devices. Now, we note ecoATM appears to be thriving and has received an international sustainability award.

A 2014 Sustainia 100 award cites, "EcoATM has found a second life for 75% of the more than 2 million collected devices, and has recycled the rest [and] has kept 31,800 kilograms of copper out of landfills - enough to create a second Statue of Liberty." In a nod to the past controversy, the award notes, "...all transactions and personal information are reported daily to local police to help identify possible theft."

2013 Update

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 concern was that EcoATM kiosks might be encouraging theft by providing an easy and quickly conversion of stolen gear to cash. 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 banned the machines in August 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 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.