Three bills have been introduced that aim to regulate Automated Purchasing Machines (APM) colloquially known as “reverse vending machines” or “cash-for-phones machines”. These automated machines give money on the spot in exchange for used electronics. While the company behind these machines, ecoATM, provides this service as a method of automated e-waste recycling, they have not been met without controversy.
Law enforcement and legislators are concerned that the machines also provide thieves an additional outlet to get immediate cash for stolen goods. As previously reported on Conduit Street, in September 2013 the Baltimore City Council voted unanimously to ban the machines. Baltimore City, is the first local government to ban the machines, joins the ranks of Riverside, California who banned them a month prior. As reported in the Baltimore Sun, there are 16 kiosks located across the Baltimore metro region and 600 kiosks across 40 states.
None of the bills that have been introduced aim to ban the machines. House Bill 85 sets requirements for APM operators to record and report all transactions to law enforcement. House Bill 338 and Senate Bill 382 each set licensing and regulation requirements for APM operators similar to those for pawnbrokers and scrap metal dealers, in addition to recording and reporting requirements.
Hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, January 5 in the House Economic Matters Committee for both House Bill 85 and House Bill 338.
A hearing date has not yet been scheduled for Senate Bill 382.