New BuyBack Booth gives students cash to recycle old cellphones

August 04, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Cellphone upgrades come and go, but what do we do with the older models? A technology startup making its debut on campus has the answer.

BuyBack Booth, a trademark of A La Carte Media Inc., is a green technology startup that installs phone donation booths in strategic locations, allowing individuals to trade in old cellphones for cash, with the peace of mind that their device will be recycled or reused, not tossed in a landfill.

Installed in the ground-level entrance to the HUB-Robeson Center, near the aquarium, the BuyBack Booth will be available for student use for the duration of the 2017-18 academic year before a more permanent decision is made. Penn State is the first university campus to make the booth available to students.

“Penn State is a perfect place for the booth,” said A La Carte Media President and COO Dan McAllister. “In addition to students being able to make a little money, they are also donating to worthy causes and disposing of their electronics in a responsible way. It’s a win, win, win.”

Those interested in donating their phone for cash should begin by downloading the BuyBack Booth app, available on both iPhone and Android devices. After answering a series of questions about the device in the app, students can then bring their phone to the booth for assessment.

At any time during the donation process, the transaction can be canceled and the phone returned to its owner.

Once a phone has been successfully donated, the machine will dispense cash and a tax donation receipt. Regardless of the phone’s worth, every donated device will represent a donation to one of two partnering charities: Thirst, an organization working to provide clean drinking water in underdeveloped nations, or Eden, a nonprofit that plants trees as part of a global reforestation project. McAllister said the group is considering allowing students to choose THON as an additional cause to donate to later in the semester.

“We are excited to bring the BuyBack booths into the HUB,” said Mary Edgington, senior director of the HUB-Robeson Center, Student Affairs facilities and staff development. “Seeing how students use the booth and their reactions to it will help us decide if it becomes a more permanent part of campus.”

Activities and facilities within the HUB-Robeson Center operate under Penn State Student Affairs. For more information, visit  

Last Updated August 15, 2017