eBay Beefs Up Instant Sale Offers to Address iPhone Avalanche

eBay Beefs Up Instant Sale Offers to Address iPhone Avalanche

When the iPhone went on sale through Verizon for the first time earlier this month, it set records for sales rates, and forced Verizon to stop pre-sales after less than 18 hours due to overwhelming demand.

While there is no shortage of first-time iPhone owners who have been champing at the bit for the wildly popular smartphone to break free from notoriously spotty AT&T service, it's a safe bet that plenty of those new sales came from current iPhone owners trying to break free themselves from AT&T.

The question from an environmental perspective is: What will happen to all those iPhones? Although throwing away a functioning iPhone is not likely to be a common occurrence, it's yet another example of the iPad phenomenon of last year: One shiny new gadget replaces a slightly older version, potentially sending thousands of devices into the e-waste bins of history.

In an attempt to make it easier for new iPhone owners to sell their unwanted smartphones in a way that will see them reused, not recycled, eBay last week kicked off a two-week-long promotion in its Instant Sale project: Cash guarantees of $200 to almost $450 for smartphones from Apple, Motorola, Samsung and HTC.

Instant Sale, launched last fall, makes it a simple, four-step process to sell back functioning electronics, with a flat price offered and free shipping for sellers. Now eBay is moving to take advantage of the booming phone resale market.

The new program offers owners $200 to owners of older iPhones, Motorola Droids, Samsung Galaxys, or HTC EVOs; if you're trading in an iPhone 4, you can get $344 or $434, depending on the model.

In addition to making it easier for phone owners to defray the costs of buying a new phone, the latest Instant Sale offer can also add up to significant savings on greenhouse gas emissions.

According to research the company conducted last year, every used smartphone purchased saves 219 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions. eBay sold over 344,000 refurbished iPhones in 2010, which adds up to over 37,000 tons of CO2e avoided last year alone.

eBay has also addressed the e-waste problem through this Instant Sale offer. smartphone owners who sell their devices through the site will go to a third party, CExchange, which has a published green policy that lays out a "no exports" rule. And CExchange partners with the e-Steward certified company ECS Refining for non-salvageable devices.

All of this adds up to a move that can help ease your guilt about buying yet another smartphone -- you may be shoveling money into Verizon's pockets, but at least you're not tossing another device into the landfill.