With something in the vicinity of 50 million tons of electronic goods being discarded each year, it's imperative we ask what is happening to all the hazardous materials that get discarded with them. The list of these substances is long, and includes americium, mercury, sulfur, predecessors of PCBs, PCBs, cadmium, lead, beryllium oxide, and polyvinyl chloride.
An equally valid question, as our non-renewable resources become scarcer and more expensive, is where is all the tin, copper, aluminum, iron, germanium, silicon, nickel, lithium, zinc, and gold ending up? You should also be asking this because, when you buy your replacement phone (for example), you're going to be responsible for about three tons of mining waste alone.
The answer to both these questions, sadly, is the landfill. Here in the US, less than 20% of e-waste is recycled. Even in the EU - where regulations are tougher - only around 25% of it is. So, according to these figures, it would be safe to estimate that around 40 million tons of discarded electronic goods will be unaccounted for this year.
ecoATM are doing their best to change this. The name says it all: an ecoATM Kiosk is an automated eCycling Station for the pricing and buy-back of used electronic devices. That's right, it even prices your device - right there in front of you - and then gives you a trade-up coupon, gift card, cash, or accepts your charitable contribution as you stand there marveling at it.
If only you could use one, right? With only 11 locations scattered across California, Nebraska and Washington, your chances are currently pretty slim. But that's about to change. The company has just closed the first round of its Series A preferred stock offering, and now, with the help of Coinstar and Claremont Creek Ventures, ecoATMs are about to go national.
Expect to see one of these in a mall near you. If you don't, demand one: