Mobile e-waste processor snags $35 million in venture capital

Summary:With carriers including Sprint PCS and Verizon heading its customer list, eRecyclingCorps seeks to benefit from the 130 million mobile phones retired annually in the United States alone.

One of the more troubling side effects with our increasingly mobile society is all the electronic waste that it is creating. For some reason, the recycling rate for mobile phones and smartphones remains abysmally low, something like 10 percent according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That translates into an annual potential collection pool of 130 million mobile phones in the United States alone.

Enter e-waste recycling company, eRecyclingCorps, which just scored a funding round of $35 million from venerable venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. The Irving, Texas-based company, which already claims Sprint and Verizon as two high-profile customers, has recreated a model for helping companies inspired higher consumer collection rates for cast-off or obsolete mobile phones. The company was originally launched in 2009, backed by OpenAir Equity Partners and SJF Ventures.

eRecyclingCorps works by offering consumers incentives for device trade-in and recycling, including in-store credit. The company is able to pull that off because it has created a Web application that links directly into the point-of-sale systems at carrier retail stores. That probably wasn't all that hard to figure out, given that the company was co-founded by the former CEO of RadioShack, David Edmondson, and the former CEO of SprintPCS, Ron LeMay.

So far, eRecyclingCorps said it has completed 2.5 million "device trades" per year since its launch. The company helped Sprint expand its Buyback program, which offers credits of $50 to $275 depending on the carrier and the model. The incentives are delivered immediately to customers who buy a new device when they trade in their old phone. (You can even get money on the oldest iPhone models.)

“The success of eRecyclingCorps among major carriers to date can be attributed to an executive team that knows the wireless and retail industries inside and out,” said Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Partner, Michael Linse.

What happens to the stuff that eRecyclingCorps collects?

The company has arranged for remanufacturing and redistributing, where appropriate, helping make "renewed" technology in the developing world.

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Topics: Innovation


Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist specializing in transformative technology and innovation. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. In a past corporate life, Heather was editor of Computer Reseller News. She started her journalism lif... Full Bio

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