The kiosk has never been so attractive.
Coinstar, the company responsible for 19,000 green coin-sorting kiosks in supermarkets and other public places, on Thursday announced an investment in EcoATM, a company that provides "eCycling" stations that receive, track and recycle mobile devices.
The kiosks electronically scan used portable electronic devices -- mobile phones, iPod media players, and so forth -- to establish a value and pay consumers on the spot. The company then resells the devices into secondary markets around the world, or "responsibly" recycles them to reclaim materials.
EcoATM was founded in 2008 and currently has pilot kiosks in select markets, with plans to expand both domestically and internationally.
Coinstar COO Gregg Kaplan said in a statement that EcoATM is a "viable" and "sustainable" business because it provides an easy way for consumers to resell or recycle "the more than $7 billion in used mobile phones that are annually retired in the U.S."
It's also a big opportunity: according to the Environmental Protection Agency, just 18 percent -- 414,000 tons -- of e-waste was recycled from the 2.25 million tons generated in the U.S. in 2007. (The rest, 1.84 million tons, went to landfills.)
Despite their size, cell phones are still valuable: for every million cell phones recycled, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered, according to the EPA.
The news also demonstrates how hot the front of the supermarket can be: the announcement follows PepsiCo's April announcement of a "Dream Machine" kiosk that recycles bottles and Coinstar's own documented success of its Redbox DVD kiosk, now tallying 26,900 units.
The big question: how many of these things can you fit at the front of a store?
The actual amount of Coinstar's investment in the company was not disclosed.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com