It’s always nice to see a Crunchies winner mature into a successful business. Last year, ecoATM – a network of automated recycling stations for old phones and tablets – won the Crunchie award for “Best Clean Tech Start-Up”. And in July of this year, ecoATM was sold to Outwall for $350 million. As founder Mark Bowles told me, ecoATM is more than just a profitable business. The automated stations, Bowles proudly told me, “take everything” including totally broken phones – so even when the second-hand products have no monetary value, ecoATM still recycles them in an environmentally correct manner.
Bowles has a bold vision for the San Diego based ecoATM. The company already has 650 recycling stations in 41 U.S. states and is running a trial of its service with Walmart. It recycled its millionth phone in April of this year and expects to hit the 2 million phone mark next month. But in the future, Bowles says, he wants ecoATM stations to be within 5 miles of 90% of the U.S. population. It’s encouraging when a company can be simultaneously profitable and good and I wish ecoATM luck in becoming the major player in the increasingly lucrative recycling business.