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For at least several years now, there have been a number of ways to dispose of your old, unwanted cell phones. Some places will accept them for recycling—and may even pay you for them. If it’s one that has a pay-as-you-go plan (no contract involved), some people simply pass them on to friends or family to use. Most, however, probably pitch them in the nearest garbage can and move on their way. Now there is a whole new, innovative way to get rid of that pesky phone that’s been taking up space in your desk drawer: EcoATMs.

EcoATM (formerly known as ReMobile) has developed an ATM-like machine that will accept old/used cell phones. How it works is first, you insert your unwanted cell phone; then the machine will inspect your phone and calculate its current value; finally, the machine stores the phone in an internal recycling bin and will issue you a coupon, gift card or charitable contribution. Coupons and gift cards issued will [usually] be for whatever store the machine is located at; charities that you may donate money to will vary from store to store, as well. If, for some reason, your phone isn’t worth much of anything, the machine may still issue you a free gift for your troubles (such as a new waterproof phone case). So instead of simply throwing out your old Android phone, help satisfy your green initiative by depositing your used phone into an EcoATM with a nice reward.

Initial testing of the EcoATM machine happened in Omaha, Nebraska, and went off without a hitch! The first day alone received 23 phones, and even more on the second day—including a brand new BlackBerry Curve! With the success of the first run, more machines are lined up to be installed in San Diego, Texas, Vermont and Washington states this quarter. Eventually, EcoATM would like to have their machines accept other electronics, like cameras, printers or mp3 players, but that much remains to be seen.

Making these machines available will be a simple, yet great environmental relief. Consider the statistics: 3 tons of mining waste goes into the making of ONE phone; and 75,000 tons of phone components (such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic) end up in landfills every year. That is quite a lot of waste due to a pocket-sized communication device. By having these machines readily available across the country—or even the globe—people may be more inclined to recycle their phones, especially since they will earn some cash or discounts in return. In the end, it is a win-win situation for all involved.

Oh, and as another added bonus, they will plant a tree for every phone given to an EcoATM. If you live in the Omaha area, or any of the other above mentioned places, keep an eye out for an EcoATM during the upcoming months! Everyone else, you will simply have to be patient—though I’m sure this idea will take the world by storm soon enough!

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