MaxBack Q&A: How to Turn E-Trash Into E-Credits

Dec 26, 2010
Are these hiding in your closet? Don&39;t put them in the trash. Turn them into cash for replacements instead. (Photo: Susanna Price/Getty Images)

MaxBack is a website that urges you, the consumer, to send in your old electronics, from cell phones to video games to cameras. These cast-off devices earn Maxback points, which can be redeemed for new electronics, accessories and music downloads.

MaxBack’s vice president of technology and development, 34-year-old William Eidenmuller, is a self-taught computer coder. Those lessons, along with a lot of travel and volunteer work, have led the Pennsylvania native to find new ways for MaxBack to reduce electronic waste—and deliver valuable products to consumers (you again).

How did you start fiddling with programming and realizing what you could do?

I was a late bloomer as far as nerds go. I didn't put focus on computers until the last years in college. After graduating, I was having a difficult time landing a job; so instead of watching soaps and Jerry Springer, I tried to do something productive.

Have you always cared about the environment and taking part?

I've always been an outdoor person, so the environment has always been important to me. I do a good amount of traveling, both domestic and international. When you see all the amazing things that exist in this world and how quickly they can be permanently destroyed, it becomes obvious how important it is to preserve and protect what you can.

What has been your most valuable lesson as you motivate change?

My wife deserves all the credit for forcing me to open my eyes to other social issues and understanding that you don't have to affect world change to make a difference. On a volunteer trip to Brazil, I was able to see how the simple act of playing with a child, when no one else was there to do it, made all the difference.

What led you to MaxBack?

The concept of product reuse: the churn rate on small electronics is incredibly high. Lines of people wait to get the latest gadgets like the iPhone, though their old cell phone is perfectly functional. For every person keeping up with the latest trends, there are 20 people thrilled to have the older model. Instead of having old cell phones, cameras, video games and other electronics sit in a drawer, the MaxBack model makes it easy and rewarding for people to get those items back out there while they still have use to others.

Related Stories: Alex Lin, Teenage Activist  | Recycle Your Electronic Discards Into Cash | New York Passes Tough E-Waste Law

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