The next big thing usually solves a big problem and when you solve a big problem...big things happen. The whole world changes quickly and history is made. When motor cars were invented, the demand for horses decreased. When email came along, the fax machine started to loose its appeal. I have been a little worried about something big that has been happening in US mobile phone recycling industry over the past couple of years. As with most things that sweep across the US, it isn't long before they find their way to UK shores.
The next big thing
This particular next big thing though could really have a big impact on the future of this website and all the hard work I have put in. Also what is more worrying is that the next big thing is already a big thing in the mobile phone recycling industry. While it is quick and easy to recycle your old mobile phone online there is still the annoying task of sending of your handset to your chosen recycling company. Companies often offer free envelopes but for valuable devices we really need to send them through a proper courier or some form of recorded delivery service with insurance. We have to package up our old devices, queue up at the local postal service offices and it costs us extra time and money. I have recycled lots of phones and I hate queuing up at the post office. There is always a big queue no matter what time I decide to go.
Only in America
Across the pond though this is no longer a problem because there are now ecoATM mobile phone recycling kiosks located in shopping malls all over the US. Similar to those coin machines we have in super markets in the UK, you just feed in your handset and it pays you straight away. No more precious time waiting for an envelope to appear or time spent queuing up at the post office. Also given the fact that most people will visit their local shopping mall regularly, they really don't have to go out of their way at all! What's more is that these recycling kiosks are actually paying out top money for handsets more often than not so they are really killing the competition.
Who is Mark Bowles?
ecoATM was invented by Mark Bowles 5 years ago. With a 25 year background in electronics and an idea he set about building a super quick way to recycle electronic devices. Earlier ideas involved using boy scouts to manually collect devices from door-to-door but after seeing those spare change coin machines in his local mall he new what he had to do. Unlike coins though which can be easily identified by size, appearance and weight, phones are a lot harder to value. An old $0.50 coin is the same value as a new $0.50 coin and there are only so many coins in use in each country at any given time. There are literally hundreds of Mobile phones however and their value is harder to determine. The ecoATM machines address this problem by taking a full 3d scan of the handset and providing a cable to connect to your device to prove it is not faulty.
There are well over 650 ecoATM machines across the US and they have already recycled over a million devices. By the end of this month the company hopes to have reached the 2 million mark. It's great news for mother earth but bad news for mail service recycling companies...and websites that compare those services. In fact it's hard to try and not think about what other small things we could sell or recycle via a similar machine. Maybe I should quickly setup gosellmytractor.com - they would never fit those machines in Tesco!