Screenshot via eRecyclingCorps
Americans buy around 140 million cell phones a year, replacing old phones an average of every 18 months. That means a whole lot of used cell phones - and a potential money maker, as two electronics company CEOs are hoping to experience. The former heads of Sprint Nextel Corp and RadioShack Corp are going to give ReCellular and similar businesses some competition as they launch eRecyclingCorps with a plan for giving people credit towards a new cell phone when they turn in their used phones. Right now, only about 1% of the world's 4 billion cellphones are recycled (with around 10% of US consumers recycling handsets) according to eRecyclingCorps, which means there's plenty of room - and need - for just such a business. Reuters reports that eRecyclingCorps' plan is to make trading in phones simple and incentivised. Consumers walk into their network operator's store with their old phone and get credit for the value of that device to be put toward a new phone. The carrier stores then send in the traded-in phones to eRecyclingCorps, which pays the carrier store for the phones. eRecyclingCorps then either resells the phones to people in emerging markets, or sends them off to be recycled.
They already are using their connections to get the business going - Sprint has asked eRecyclingCorps to handle phones returned to 1,100 of its own stores and 1,400 of its third-party dealers. Sprint wants to see 90% of the phones it sells be recycled or reused at end of life by 2017, so partnering up with companies like eRecyclingCorps goes a long way toward accomplishing their goal.
David Edmonson, former CEO of electronics retailer RadioShack and co-Founder of eRecyclingCorps says that "he feels a responsibility to help deal with the issue of cellphone waste because he helped create the problem by being instrumental in developing the U.S. mobile phone market during his time at RadioShack." Of course, turning a profit in a relatively untapped market is a big part of the incentive (they're expecting profit margins of about 35%), but hearing CEOs take on responsibility for what they do in one company and counter the negative impact through their work in another company is encouraging.