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So you have an old video camera, cell phone, or laptop you don’t use anymore? Don’t junk it – sell it.

It used to be that an eBay auction was pretty much the only way to get that job done – but things have changed. Now eBay (Stock Quote: EBAY) will buy your old technology directly from you.

The “gadget buy back” program is called eBay Instant, a new buyback site for all those electronic dust magnets sitting in your desk drawer or utility closet. EBay will buy them from you directly, to then reuse and recycle key parts of those devices that can be used to refurbish other used items.

The mechanics of eBay Instant are quite simple: You enter the product name (say: “iPhone”), choose the specific make and model (say: “iPhone 3GS, 16GB”), and answer a few questions about the item’s condition. EBay Instant will then make you a take-it-or-leave-it offer for your device.

That comes to $119 for the 16GB iPhone 3GS we tested today, considerably lower than quotes from other gadget-buyback services like Gazelle ($143) and significantly lower than the value determined by appraisal site WorthMonkey ($317). Indeed our own analysis of eBay sales data showed average selling prices on eBay itself of over $300 for a 16GB iPhone 3GS.

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EBay compensates for what appears to be a low price quote by offering free shipping of your item via a print-out shipping label, and it will wipe personal data from the device free of charge. EBay says most payments are made in a week.

Even if you have a real genuine relic that has no real buyback value, say an Apple G2 laptop or a 10-year-old camcorder that is essentially worthless, eBay instant will take the product off your hands, pay for its shipping and recycle it for you.

The program’s origins lie in eBay’s Green Team - an in-house group set up to tackle environmental issues related to e-commerce, like a recent program to put 100,000 reusable shipping boxes in the hands of its sellers.

Sure, you might get more money selling your old gadget on eBay yourself, but you may not sell it at the price you expect, you will likely wait longer to get paid, and you won’t be participating in a recycling process that helps the environment.

So get some green by going green – in no more than an instant.

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