Cell phone buy-back program: Trade in old phones for new ones or cash

Tis the season for cell phone shopping. So what do you do with your old one when you purchase the new one?

Ask Jeremy Graber. His mission is turning electronic waste into cash, one old cell phone at a time.

He runs his Envirocellular business out of his basement, sorting through thousands of old phones from all over the United States, separating the reusable from the unusable.

"A box of old used cell phones may look like junk to some, but to me, all of these old phones are good and I may get a couple of hundred dollars out of that. Small amount to some, but a lot to me," Graber said.

Studies show people replace their cell phones every two years or less. But most just throw old ones in a drawer, not realizing they still have any value.

When an organization collects phones, they get 30 percent of the funds from the sale of each good phone. Anything that is obsolete or broken, they receive a dollar for a pound.

Graber's one-man operation may be unique, but e-cycling options are increasing. The latest twist is the eco-ATM, which would be in place at dozens of malls nationwide.

The eco-ATM is expected to be Valley malls this summer.

Since these ATMs are not available yet, there are other ways to turn old phones in to cash:

- Buy-back programs such as Youchange , Recellular and BuyMyTonics pay cash for used devices and provide prepaid postage.

- Apple and Best Buy offer store credit for old phones.

- Target and Lowe's have in-store bins to recycle them, but they don't pay for broken phones.

- Charities, such as March of Dimes and Cell Phones for Soldiers, refurbish and sell old phones, then use the proceeds for good causes.

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