3 Old Razors, 2 Blackberries and a Nokia 6110
There’s a lot of news around Apple’s record 5 million new iPhone 5’s flying out of stores in the first three days. It’s a great business story, clearly a technology story and I’m happy to see that more than a few journalists are using it as an opportunity to write about the issue of electronics recycling.
I am not particularly anxious to get my hands on every new gadget that comes along. I am quite happy with the first iPhone I bought almost a year ago– the 4, sans Siri. Yet, even as a pretty restrained technology consumer, there’s still a box in the basement full of old Razors, Blackberries and more than a few oddball, decades-old handsets. If there had been the opportunity to easily trade in these phones when they were replaced, I definitely would have done so. A bit of extra cash or credit toward the new contract would be great, but so would the ability to easily get rid of an item that would serve no purpose in the future, can’t be thrown away and has no value in a yard sale.
So now that e-recycling is top-of-mind and more and more companies like Sprint are making it simple and worthwhile to trade-in, what really happens to that collection of yesterday’s technology? Given today’s general rate of phone turnover, the technology considered “old” at trade-in simply isn’t that old and there are a lot of folks who would like to have it, especially at a cost much lower than the brand new model. Additionally, many of the individual items turned over are still in good operating condition. The scenario is a lot like trading in a 2008 Accord for a new Acura. The new owner simply wants something newer, a bit flashier, perhaps with more horsepower and an updated GPS. Nothing wrong with that! And there’s also likely nothing wrong with that Accord, either, and it will go on to be a fine vehicle for the next owner.
eRecyclingCorps, one of ModusLink’s clients and a fellow founding member of the Device Renewal Forum, is putting this concept in action with mobile phones. eRC has a comprehensive program that works with retailers and carriers on trade-in programs and then evaluates, renews or recycles the devices. CNN recently visited ModusLink’s Bloomington, IN facility to see the renewal process in action. It may be too late for one of my old flip phones, but it’s not too late for your iPhone 4S!