Helping the Environment

The Challenge of E-Waste

The Problem at Hand

Electronic devices, such as our cellphones and tablets, have become staples in our everyday routines. Because of our constant usage and several releases throughout each year, these devices are often replaced regularly before their useful life ends. Yearly releases of new devices mean that more and more phones flood the market – and in turn more e-waste floods our environment.
As a result, there are large numbers of devices laying idle in our own homes. There are currently half a billion phones ready for recycling in the US alone and more than 11 million phones are manufactured each month. 

To make matters worse, over 151 million phones thrown out in the US each year – that’s about 416,000 phones thrown out every single day. This problem is fast-growing and most consumers don’t know what to do with their used devices when they upgrade to a new model, so they dispose of them improperly or collect them in a junk drawer.

Risks of Improper Disposal

Improper disposal of electronic devices or leaving functional electronics idle in drawers can cause negative impacts on our environment and health. These risks include: 

  • Toxic materials: Our smartphones contain toxic materials such as mercury, lead, beryllium, arsenic and cadmium. If improperly disposed of, these toxins can leak into our natural environment and have harmful effects on everything that grows from it. In fact, a recent study from toxics link reported soil and water contamination as a result of improper recycling activities.
  • Increased e-waste: By choosing to let our old devices lay idle at home, we’re unknowingly contributing to a major problem for our planet and generations to come. E-waste is the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America and less than 20 percent of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year.
  • Contaminated food chain: The materials in our phones can adversely affect our entire food chain. Heavy metals released by incineration can accumulate in the food chain (especially in fish) due to the increase of metals from crops and a contaminated food chain.
  • Lost precious metals: A mobile phone can contain over 40 elements including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Metals represent about 23% of the weight of the phone with the remaining 77% being plastics and ceramic materials. By neglecting to properly dispose of our used devices, we create the need for more mining of previous metals and resources.

Why Selling & Properly Recycling Your Devices Helps 

There is a solution to our fast-growing e-waste problem, and it begins with the sustainable choice of selling and properly recycling used devices. Much life thrifting or opting for reusable water bottles, selling and recycling our old devices is beneficial to the environment for a few different reasons: 

  • Opportunity for reuse: This re-use opportunity extends the useful life of an electronic which reduces the demand for new electronics. In turn, this turn reduces the need for manufacturing new electronics which leads to increased manufacturing emissions. Selling your used phone and buying a used phone is a sustainable choice.
  • Avoiding the landfill: As mentioned before, our phones contain precious materials and toxins. Proper recycling ensures these don’t end up in our natural environment through landfills.
  • Reclaiming precious materials and metals: Recovering precious materials helps to avoid the additional mining of our limited and precious resources. Mining itself is detrimental for our environment.

ecoATM was founded to help address the e-waste challenge. ecoATM kiosks leverage technology to offer consumers an easy, safe, secure and convenient place to sell their used cell phones in exchange for cash. When a consumer sells their phone to an ecoATM, they are giving their used phone an opportunity for a new life.  

With your help, we’ve hit a major milestone of collecting over 45 million devices through our kiosks! Let’s put that into perspective:

*These estimated equivalents are based on total device collection results through 2023. Data generated with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). © 2023 ecoATM, LLC. ecoATM and ecoATM logo are registered trademarks of ecoATM, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

How You Can Help the Environment 

If you’re ready to do right by the planet, there are various ways to take action. You can start today with choices such as choosing reusable solutions, taking the time to read up on new recycling practices, and selling or properly recycling your old devices so that they have the opportunity for a new life. Whichever you may choose, the planet – and everyone on it for generations to come – will thank you.