Teen will buy your old gadgets

Using your vintage first-generation iPod as a paperweight? Still holding on to that old Blackberry wondering what to do with it?

Los Gatos teenager Jason Li has your answer and it may lead you to riches. Well, maybe not riches, but at least a few extra bucks.

The 15-year-old high school sophomore recently started iReTron, a website created to give you cash for your old electronics. He started the company after learning about the hazards of electronic waste in his freshman world geography class.

Just to give you an idea for how much cash you can get for your clunky old electronics, Li will pay you $30 4th generation iPod nano, $88 for a Blackberry Torch, or $97 for a Kindle. Li told SFGate:

“It’s better for the environment because it’s one less cell phone in the dumps. By extending the lifetime of your electronics, it helps you and the other person, and it helps the environment.”

These days, more companies are popping up to help people properly dispose of their ever-increasing pile of used electronics. An estimated 152 million mobile devices were trashed or recycled in 2010, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And in 2010, an astonishing 2.4 million tons of electronic waste was produced by US consumers.

Websites in the used gadget business tend to keep the ones that have the best resale rates then ship the rest to offshore centers to be refurbished further. Some, though, are sending them to be disposed of in other landfills.

Jim Puckett, executive director of Basel Action Network, a nonprofit group battling toxic waste around the globe, warns that not all companies that buy used electronics are recycling the products properly. He told SFGate:

“It’s very lucrative. They’re using the words ‘recycling’ and ‘re-use,’ but they’re really into it for profit.”

But Li says that he doesn’t want electronics to end up in landfills and all gadgets he can’t sell are donated to charities or sent to certified recycling centers.

Although he hasn’t seen profit yet, Li has already processed about 600 to 700 transactions and has high hopes for his business’ future. He said:

“We want to expand our company into a multimillion-dollar company.”