EcoATM is preparing to roll-out a fully automated phone recycling machine across the US during 2012. The machine, which pays cash for a variety of portable electronic devices, was displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and is already available at a number of locations in California.

Users can receive an instant quote for their mobile phone, MP3 player, tablet or Kindle by placing their device in a metal tray, where a camera identifies it against a database of 4,000 gadgets. The machine then presents a cable which must be plugged in to see if the device is functioning, before offering a quote based on what second hand electronic recycling companies are willing to pay for it. Should the quote be accepted, the cash is provided immediately.

The company says that the machine can help with the global problem of e-waste, adding that the ecoATM is “a great example of technology solving a problem created by technology.” “Almost everyone has a collection of used portable electronics stored somewhere,” commented ecoATM chairman and CEO Tom Tullie. ”At ecoATM, we believe strongly in repurposing good electronics that can be refurbished and used by consumers in other markets.” “We find a second life for about 75 percent of the used devices we collect at the kiosks. For the other 25 percent of devices that are truly at their end of life, we work with either R2-cerfied or BAN-certified recyclers who reclaim the raw materials and precious metals in an environmentally responsible way,” he added. Dirty Money Not all e-waste is disposed of responsibly, with some of it exported illegally to developing countries, where it is processed in lethally unsafe ways.

The European parliament has responded by voting for tough Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) disposal rules, however the EU’s five percent target has been labelled as ‘pathetic’ by electronics repair company Comtek. If the machines were ever to find their way over to the UK, they would have to adhere to a new code of practice introduced by the government which closed a loophole that allowed criminals to sell stolen mobile phones to recycling firms. It was estimated that prior to the implementation of the code, an estimated 100,000 stolen phones, worth £4 million, were sold to recycling companies each year. The majority of these phones were blocked across all UK networks within 48 hours of being reported stolen, but many of these phones could still be sold abroad.