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Innovation

EcoATM raises $17M to bring e-waste kiosks to you

The San Diego-based startup that developed an ATM to buy and recycle smartphones, MP3 players and other electronic devices has raised $17 million to roll-out its e-waste kiosks across the U.S.
Written by Kirsten Korosec, Contributor on

The average U.S. household owns 24 different consumer electronic devices, many of which are no longer being used. Some devices end up stashed in a drawer (you know the one). Other obsolete or broken devices -- nearly 2.4 million tons in a year according to the most recent EPA figures -- are tossed into landfills.

Electronic waste is considered the fastest-growing portion of the municipal waste stream. And yet, inside these devices are valuable resources including silver, gold, aluminum, copper and titanium that could be reclaimed. San Diego-based startup ecoATM has developed kiosks that can be placed in grocery stores and malls to make the electronics recycling process so convenient that consumers will change their wasteful habits.

Earlier this week, the startup announced it raised $17 million in a series B investment round to expand its network of e-recycling kiosks to the rest of the United States. In the past two years, the company has installed 50 kiosk locations throughout California. The new funding will enable mass commercialization and a national roll-out, ecoATM Chairman and CEO Tom Tullie said in a recent statement.

Claremont Creek Ventures, Coinstar Inc. and TAO Ventures all increased their investments in this latest financing round. New investors include PI Holdings, Moore Venture Partners, AKS Capital and Singapore billionaire Koh Boon Hwee. The company also announced it has been awarded a phase II grant for up to $1 million from the National Science Foundation.

The back story

In 2009, Coinstar launched its Next Great Idea challenge, a contest aimed at finding what the name implies. Its first winner was San Diego-based startup EcoATM. Since then, Coinstar has repeatedly invested in the startup. Coinstar founder Jens Molbak sits on the e-waste recycling company's board of directors.

Coinstar has extensive experience in the automated kiosk business. The company's first coin-counting kiosk was installed in 1992. It eventually branched out with the DVD rental unit Redbox. The company has approximately 36,800 DVD kiosks and 20,200 coin-counting kiosks in supermarkets, drug stores, restaurants, financial institutions and convenience stores.

How it works

A consumer walks up and places their portable consumer electronics device or handset into the automated kiosk. The used device is valued and then it's automatically binned inside the kiosk. The user has a few payment options. They can receive a trade-up coupon, gift card, cash or can make a charitable donation. The kiosk requires a scan of your license to prevent theft and fraud.

Photo: ecoATM; thumbnail credit stock.xhcng

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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