An automat made in israel makes it easier to recycle used phones

Do you have many used smartphones at home and you don’t know what to do with them? You are not alone.

An Israeli company has found a solution: an automaton that allows consumers to recycle them, sell them or replace them with a better, refurbished model. The goal is to save energy, natural resources and reduce mining-related environmental damage associated with smartphone production as well as e-waste.

RE-Refurbished Smartphones Revolution, founded in 2015, offers a one-stop vending machine that is currently available in three stores in Tel Aviv and 14 in Europe – in Finland, Germany and Spain.

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On Wednesday, the Israeli-made automaton was on display at the Climate Solutions conference and festival organized by Start Up Nation Central, the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund and JNF Canada in the Hulda Forest in central Israel.

The automaton is easy to use.

Just enter the phone’s serial number and the system can verify that it’s yours, hasn’t been stolen, and has been fully paid for. After ticking a few boxes, you put your phone on the sensor, where an artificial intelligence system verifies that the statements you’ve made about your phone are correct, and gives you a prize.

That price can be significantly lower – half the price and sometimes less – than what the phone might fetch on the used market. But it’s still practical.

The author’s iPhone 12 was priced at NIS 1,090. For an additional 2,010 shekels, it could have been swapped for an equivalent model, a refurbished, fully tested and unlocked iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB, with a 12-month warranty.

A RE-Refubished Smartphone Revolution automaton on display during the Climate Solutions conference and festival in the forest of Hulda, central Israel, October 26, 2022. Left to right: Carmit Lev Solach, Director of Marketing, Itzik Chayun , Director of Development, Mali Hadar, and Ido Maor, Director of Supply Chain. (Credit: Sue Surkes/Times of Israel)

According to price comparison site Zap (in Hebrew), a new model of this iPhone currently costs between 3,805 shekels and 4,689 shekels.

It is possible to trade in your phone for a better model, in which case a shutter opens, engulfs the phone and replaces it with a superior model. You can also sell your phone, in which case the machine swallows the phone and immediately makes the payment by bank transfer or by PayPal or – if the customer so wishes – in the form of a gift card.

All phones “ingested” by the machine are sent to a lab where their contents are “legally erased” in accordance with the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation, explained Mali Hadar, head of the development.

Phones in good condition are checked and offered for resale.

If repairs are needed, they are sold to a wholesaler who refurbishes them.

If they are too old or too damaged to have any value, they are sold for recycling, either to an Israeli metal and electronics recycling company, Gaia, or to a recycling company in Poland.

If the customer has any regrets, RE will take the refurbished phones back within 14 days and refund the money “no questions asked,” the company’s website says.

Hadar said that while other companies have already developed machines that accept old cellphones for recycling, RE is the first to integrate the buying and selling of these devices.

Tel Aviv machines can be found at am:pm stores on Nordau and Allenby streets, as well as the Shalom Meir (Kol Bo Shalom) tower on Herzl Street.

According to the company, 100 to 200 million phones are thrown away every year worldwide, and only one in ten are recycled. For every million smartphones recycled, 34 kg of gold could be produced, as well as 350 kg of silver, 15 kg of palladium and 16,000 kg of copper.

Smartphones are made from 62 different metals that need to be mined.

According to UNICEF, more than 40,000 children work in the mines that extract cobalt – an essential ingredient in batteries for mobile phones and other electronic devices.

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An automat made in israel makes it easier to recycle used phones

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