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eRecyclingCorps:10 Million Cell Phone Trade-Ins Since 2009

Words by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment

Few press releases cause me to say, "Wow." Yesterday's press release about eRecyclingCorps (eRC) achieving 10 million cell phone trade-ins since 2009 is an exception. eRC, a leader in mobile device trade-ins, began in 2009 when Ron LeMay, from Sprint, and David Edmondson, from Radioshack, launched the company. Edmondson is now the CEO and LeMay is the Chairman. eRC allows in-carrier and retail stores to offer instant-credit that a customer can apply to the purchase of a new phone. It also allows carriers to make money from their e-waste. It's a clichéd win-win situation for both customers and carriers. What does eRC do with the devices collected by in-store operators and retail programs? They are repaired to "like new" quality" and resold. That keeps them out of landfills.

In addition to hitting the 10 million trade-in mark, eRC almost tripled its year-over-year volume with over seven million cell phone trade-ins in 2012. That same year, eRC processed device trade-ins at a rate of almost 20,000 a day, which represents 2,255 tons of electronic waste kept from landfills. Not bad for a company founded in 2009. eRC operates in 10 countries and partners with five of the seven leading carriers in North American, several European operators, and over 10,000 retail locations globally. It launched its first in-store operator program with Sprint, and since then, Sprint's buyback program has a trade-in rate today of over 40 percent.

"This major milestone demonstrates that operators are quickly learning about the tremendous power of eRecyclingCorps’ in-store trade-in program to offset surging device subsidy costs, improve customer satisfaction and meet sustainability goals," said David Edmondson, CEO of eRC.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a big problem, particularly when it comes to cell phones. Only 10 percent of cell phones are being recycled, according to the EPA, and U.S. households have over a billion unused cell phones. Every year, 130 million cell phones are replaced. That is why trade-in programs are so important.

eRC achieves premier certification

Early in January, eRC announced that it achieved both Responsible Recycling (R2) and Recycling Industry Operating Standard (RIOS) certifications for its headquarters in Irving, Texas. eRC describes R2/RIOS as "an international mark of excellence for electronics recyclers." RS2/RIOS combines two industry standards for device trade-in providers. To achieve the certifications, the company's headquarters had to go through a comprehensive third-party audit by NFS International Strategic Registration (NSF-ISR). eRC is one the first device trade-in companies to achieve both certifications. Achieving both standards means that a company is complying with the EPA's standards while promoting good environmental practices both at home and abroad.
"Achieving certification showcases eRC’s dedication to operating with the highest industry standards and in an environmentally sound manner," said Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI).

eRC is a finalist in the Green Mobile Award category at the Mobile World Congress, which is currently happening this week in Barcelona, Spain. eRC's CEO is one of the panelists at the conference this year.

See TriplePundit founder Nick Aster interview eRecyclingCorps CEO David Edmondson at last year's Fortune Green conference.

[Image credit: c.a.s.e.y, Flickr]

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman