Scientists & engineers on sofas (and other furnishings): Flip phones save the world

EcoATM founder Mark Bowles talks about the high-tech tools needed to turn flip phones and old electronics into a successful commercial enterprise that helps save the environment. Sarah Bates from the NSF sat down with Mark to discuss ecoATM and its rise from an idea in a coffee shop into a multimillion dollar business. EcoATM runs kiosks placed all around the United States where people can turn in their unwanted electronics for cash. EcoATM accepts everything from old, useless flip phones to cracked or new smart phones. EcoATM is addressing a major ecological concern with their business model. When flip phones are discarded in the trash, they break down--over hundreds of years--and release their toxic insides into the water table. By recycling unwanted cell phones, ecoATM is able to cut down on the creation of new phones. Instead of purchasing and consuming endless numbers of new phones, ecoATM allows people to buy used or refurbished phones. On top of that, ecoATM is able to reclaim metal from old flip phones and smart phones, which has an impact on the amount of metal that must be mined from the ground.

Provided by the National Science Foundation

Runtime: 6:01

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