Take a Coinstar type of kiosk and allow people to trade-in/trade-up plus recycle their old cell phones and consumer electronics. Name the kiosks ecoATMs. In 2009, ecoATM was launched, and currently has 11 machines in the Midwest, San Diego, Boston, Dallas and Seattle. The company hopes to expand to 150 machines by the end of this year, and add another 700 by the end of next year.
Customers use the ecoATM in three steps:
- Insert portable CE device or handset
- Used device automatically valued
- Portables automatically binned inside. User receives trade-up coupon, gift card, cash, and/or charitable contribution
Will the ecoATM become as popular as Coinstar kiosks? Bowles says, “It’s hard to predict how consumers will react to kiosks.” He points out that ecoATMs do not ask for money “paying them for the used phones, like a Coinstar machine, which is why we think this automated approach will work.”
Bowles says ecoATMs are convenient. “Most people don’t want to go through the hassle of labeling and shipping their used items and finding prospective buyers,” he says. “We started ecoATM with the idea of rewarding consumers who recycle their retired mobile phones by providing an automated kiosk that makes it easy for them.”
The first market tests convinced Tom Clancy, a former program manager for ATM and kiosk development for Citibank, that ecoATMs will increase electronic recycling. “E-waste recycling has been inconvenient and costly as evidenced by the hundreds of millions of old devices still sitting in consumer’s drawers at homes,” says Clancy, who also joined the board.
ecoATM is getting attention. It ranked number three in Green:Net 2010’s launchpad this week. Last month, the company announced it raised venture capital from Tao Venture Partners and individual investor Jens Molbak, the founder of Coinstar. Molbak joined the company’s board.