ATM Turns Those Old Electronics From Dust-Covered Clutter To Cold Hard Cash

Every time you get a new phone, what do you do with the old one? While some consumers do their due diligence and find a place to recycle their phones, old tablets and mp3 players, some of us just stick them on a shelf where they collect dust. A new machine called the ecoATM has come up with a way for people to dispose of their unwanted devices and get a little cash in the process.

CNNMoney looks at the new system, which the company’s CEO came up with after hearing that only 3% of phones worldwide were reused or recycled. That means a lot of us are lazy, perhaps, or there just aren’t a variety of recycling programs accessible to some people.

Here’s how it works: You place your device in the machine, while a little robot man talks soothingly about what he’s doing — scanning the phone to get its specs and figure out what it’ll be worth. It then throws out a price — anywhere from something like $6 for an old BlackBerry or $250 for an iPhone 4S — and the user decides to accept that bid or not. Hey, any money is better than the no money you get from using the thing as a paperweight.

If you decided to take the deal, you’ll have to scan your driver’s license as a way to prevent the machine from accepting stolen goods, and offer your thumbprint as a signature. Then right there where you’re standing, at the mall or grocery store or whathaveyou, the machine spits out cash and your load has been lightened.

The ecoATM company then resells the phones or if they’re too old, they’re sent to recyclers where their metals and parts can be useful.

There are currently 185 of these machines in 13 states, but the founder hopes to have thousands in the very near future.

Consumerist reader Bob emailed me to bring up a great point — if you don’t want your personal information to possibly end up somewhere it shouldn’t be, make sure to wipe your phone of such info before bringing it to the ATM.

Check out the video below to see the magic for yourself:

This ATM turns old cell phones into cash [CNNMoney]