German shoppers can now recycle their old phones in store and receive money instantly

German shoppers can now recycle their old phones in store and receive money instantly

Attention shoppers! You can now trade in your old phone in-store for vouchers via a machine that offers an instant valuation. It's a secure, practical and sustainable way of getting rid of some old clutter - and you get paid for it! What's not to like?

Get rid of your old phone in Media Markt

As of September 18, 2019, shoppers in Germany can return their old, unwanted mobile phones to Media Markt and receive a cash voucher - like a Pfand machine, but for mobile phones! Simply pop your old phone into the machine to receive an offer. If you're happy with the valuation, you can take the voucher, and the machine swallows the device. 

Currently, the selling of old unwanted mobiles is largely done on the internet through platforms such as eBay, Rebuy and Clevertronic. These machines, produced by US manufacturer ecoATM, have been around in the UK and US for years, and offer a convenient and competitive alternative - and they even adjust their prices according to "market values", according to ecoATM’s Europe Manager, Christoph Janeba. 

Nothing goes to waste

The machines also accept broken or damaged devices. They are able recognise the device's condition, allowing customers to deposit phones with water damage or cracked screens. This is because mobile phones contain lots of valuable resources that can be reused, even if they don't work properly.

The information and telecommunications association Bitkom estimates that around 124 million devices are lying unused in German homes. Typically a mobile phone contains around 8 grams of copper, 4 grams of cobalt, 0,2 grams of silver and 0,002 grams of gold. That means that around 1.000 tons of copper, 487 tons of cobalt, 33 tons of silver, 3 tons of gold and around 1 ton of palladium - all extremely valuable resources - are just lying around, completely wasted.

Phone exchange machines are safe and sustainable

The machines allow for a sustainable, eco-friendly way of disposing of old phones. As well as the materials listed above, phones contain lead and nickel so throwing them away can pollute the environment. Around half the phones deposited into the machines can be resold, according to Janeba. The rest can be stripped for parts and materials.

The machines also discourage thieves from trying to sell stolen phones. The machine checks whether the device has been reported stolen to the German police, and the name connected to the device. The seller must then present an ID card at the checkout in order to be able to redeem the voucher.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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