11 Ways To Make Money Recycling

Looking for ways to make money recycling? Recycling is great for the planet and it can also be a way to make some extra income. Many things, like aluminum cans and old books, can be sold for cash if you know where and how to recycle them. Some places pay you for recycling because they…

Looking for ways to make money recycling?

Recycling is great for the planet and it can also be a way to make some extra income. Many things, like aluminum cans and old books, can be sold for cash if you know where and how to recycle them.

Some places pay you for recycling because they still have use for the items.

There are also recycling centers, which sell these materials to make new products. It’s a win-win: they save money on raw materials, and you get paid for your recyclables.

Plus, recycling can be an easy way to earn money without needing a lot of money to start.

11 Best Ways To Make Money Recycling

Looking to make extra money from your unused items and trash? Here are 11 easy ways to make money recycling.

1. Make money recycling aluminum cans

Recycling aluminum cans can be a way to earn extra cash. Did you know that aluminum cans are one of the most recyclable items?

You can start by gathering cans from home, or you could set up a system to collect them from friends, family, and neighbors. Don’t forget to look around your workplace – or local businesses – they might be happy to give you their cans too!

Once you’ve got a good number of cans, store them safely until you’re ready to cash them in. The more cans you collect, the more money you can make.

In many places, you can bring your collected cans to a recycling center, and they will pay you by the pound. Prices can vary, but you can usually make around $0.35 to $0.50 per pound of aluminum cans. The exact amount you’ll earn depends on the current market price of aluminum and your local recycling center rates.

2. Make money recycling paper and cardboard

You might be surprised to find out that your old newspapers, magazines, and even those boxes from your online shopping can actually be worth money.

You will want to call your local recycling center to see if they pay for paper. If they do, then you will want to gather all the paper you don’t need anymore. This includes your newspapers, junk mail, and used school papers.

Cardboard (such as the boxes from your online shopping orders) can be recycled too. Places like BoxCycle make it easy. They connect you with people who want to buy used boxes.

Recycling centers may pay for your cardboard boxes as well, but they typically want a lot of weight – a ton or more.

Note: There’s another common household item that people sometimes pay for as well – toilet paper rolls! These can be great for crafts and can be sold on sites like eBay and Etsy.

3. Make money recycling plastic

Recycling plastic has become a popular way to earn extra cash while being good to the environment. You’re probably using plastic every day, and it turns out that recycling can put money back in your wallet.

You can start by gathering plastic bottles from your home, friends, or community. The more you collect, the more you can earn.

If your state has a bottle bill (there are around 10 states with this), you’re in luck! You can take your plastic bottles to a local redemption center and earn a few cents per bottle.

Not all places pay for recycling, so you’ll have to find a center that does. They might have special rules on how to prepare your bottles, like rinsing them or removing labels.

Once you’ve collected enough, take your clean and sorted plastic bottles to the recycling center. They will weigh your load and pay you based on the weight.

4. Make money recycling metal

Recycling metal is a way you can make some extra cash.

To get started, you’ll have to sort your metals into different types. There are two main kinds:

  1. Ferrous metals contain iron or steel. They are usually less valuable.
  2. Nonferrous metals do not have iron. These include aluminum, copper, brass, and stainless steel. They’re usually worth more money.

Metal can be old appliances, car parts that have metals, copper parts, and more.

Once you have a collection, take it to your local scrapyard, but remember:

  • Prices fluctuate, so check the current rates for metals like steel, aluminum, and others.
  • Clean your metals. Remove any nonmetal parts. Clean aluminum cans and crush them.
  • Separate your metals for the best deal. Mixed metals may get you lower prices.
Ways to Make Money RecyclingWays to Make Money Recycling

5. Make money recycling glass and bottles

Recycling glass bottles and jars is a way to make extra money.

You can start making money recycling glass and bottles by gathering what you have as well as asking your friends and neighbors for theirs.

Then, you will want to contact different recycling centers to see how much they will pay. It is typically around $0.02 to $0.15 per bottle.

6. Make money recycling electronics

Recycling electronics (also known as e-waste) can be a great way to make extra money. You can sell things like your old cell phones, tablets, laptops, video games, and more.

I have personally sold my old electronics many times, such as an old laptop (I actually just did this last month!) as well as old cell phones.

Companies like Decluttr and Gazelle make selling your old electronics (like an old phone) very easy. They’ll give you a price for your device online, and if you agree, you can send it in for cash.

Also, online stores like Amazon and Apple have trade-in options too. They take your old gadgets and give you gift cards in return.

Recommended reading: 12 Best Places To Sell Video Games

7. Make money recycling wine corks

Recycling wine corks can be a fun way to make a bit of extra cash. If you love wine and have been throwing away your corks, you might be missing out!

To make money recycling wine corks, you will want to look for a cork recycling program in your area. Some companies collect natural wine corks to make eco-friendly products. Check with local wineries or recycling centers to see if they have any programs going on as well.

Once you’ve gathered a bunch, check with the recycling program on how to send your corks. They might want you to drop them off, or you can ship them. Sometimes, they even provide free shipping labels!

You may also be able to sell them online, such as Etsy or eBay.

I did a quick search on Etsy, and there are a lot of wine corks for sale on this platform, with many reviews. So, there must be a decent amount of buyers!

I personally know a few people who have done projects with wine corks and have paid for them too.

8. Make money recycling cooking oil

Recycling used cooking oil is a creative way to make some extra cash. Many companies out there will pay you for your old oil because they can turn it into cool things like biodiesel fuel.

To get started with this, you’ll have to find a local recycler. You can look for companies near you that pick up used cooking oil.

Then, you’ll want to find a way to save your used oil in a container instead of throwing it away. Once you have enough, take it to the recycling center.

Some places that buy cooking oil include:

  1. Biofuel companies – They turn the oil into fuel for cars and buses.
  2. Soap makers – Some folks use the oil to make soaps and other cleaning items.
  3. Lubricant manufacturers – Your old oil can be made into lubricants for machines.

I have a family member who would use oil in their old car instead of fuel, so there are definitely uses!

9. Make money recycling old books

I have sold a lot of books over the years, mainly textbooks.

Websites like eBay, Decluttr, AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sell Back Your Book, and Half Price Books have an easy way to sell books. All you need is the barcode or ISBN number from your book, and you’ll get a price quote.

Some local bookstores or online platforms have buyback programs. They’ll give you money or store credit in exchange for your old books.

If you have a bunch of books, you can also just have a yard sale. You most likely won’t earn as much money for each book, but you can sell a lot at once and all from the comfort of your home.

Recommended reading: 17 Best Places To Sell Used Books For Cash

10. Make money recycling ink cartridges

Cartridges, which have never been refilled, can make you money.

You may be able to sell them at:

  • Online marketplaces – Sites like eBay are great for selling ink cartridges.
  • Recycling programs – Some manufacturers have programs to buy back used cartridges.
  • Office supply stores – Stores may offer store credit for your cartridges.

Your old ink cartridge may earn you between $0.12 and $0.60 each.

11. Make money recycling car batteries

Recycling car batteries can be a simple way for you to earn some extra cash. Many auto part shops and recycling centers will pay you for bringing in old batteries.

Shops like Advance Auto Parts or AutoZone may pay you around $10 per car battery.

So, if you are switching out your car battery, you may be able to trade it in for store credit.

Where To Sell Recyclables

As you read above, there are many different things that you can recycle and make money from. With some of the items above, you are recycling them to a recycling plant or major company. For others, you may be simply selling them to another person so that it does not go to waste.

Below, I will be talking a little more about each option.

Local recycling centers

Local recycling centers near you are the best places to turn in items like aluminum cans and glass bottles. Most centers pay you cash based on weight, so the more you collect, the more money you make.

Online marketplaces

You may be able to sell bulk or unique recyclables on online platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace. Websites like BoxCycle also buy used boxes.

Recommended reading: 16 Best Selling Apps For Selling Stuff Online And Locally


If you have specific kinds of waste, you may be able to search for companies that will take them. For example, Amazon Trade-In and Decluttr are both great for electronics. Auto parts stores like Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone accept used car batteries and motor oil, and they might give you store credit or gift cards for your items. Office stores like Staples and Office Depot may accept your old ink cartridges too.

Note: If a place doesn’t pay you to recycle an item, I still recommend recycling as it’s so good for the planet!

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions about how to make money recycling.

What is the most profitable recycling?

The most profitable recycling items are usually materials like aluminum, copper, and certain types of plastics due to their high demand and recycling efficiency. Aluminum cans are particularly profitable because they’re easy to collect and recycle.

How can recycling make you money?

You can make money by collecting and selling recyclable materials to local scrapyards or recycling centers. Many centers pay by weight for items such as paper, metal, and plastic containers. Also, you might find companies that pay for items like electronics or ink cartridges.

How profitable is waste recycling?

The amount of money that you can make recycling depends on a lot of factors like the type of material, market demand, and the volume you’re able to collect. While it’s not likely to replace a full-time job, recycling waste may be able to earn you some extra money.

How to make money recycling plastic bottles?

To make money recycling plastic bottles, you can collect them in large quantities and bring them to a recycling facility that pays for plastics. Some states have a bottle deposit program where you receive a set amount for each bottle returned, usually between 5 and 15 cents. Some states that pay include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.

How many plastic bottles do you need to make $1000?

The amount you’ll need depends on the rate you’re getting paid per bottle. If your state’s bottle deposit pays 10 cents per bottle, you’d need to collect 10,000 bottles to make $1,000. That’s a lot of bottles, as you can see.

How To Make Money Recycling

I hope you enjoyed this article on how to make money recycling.

You might already recycle scrap metal, cardboard boxes, plastic, and more at home, but did you know you can make money from it? You can start a small recycling business and find out which items can be sold for extra cash.

By learning the basics of recycling for profit and finding the most valuable items, you could start a moneymaking and eco-friendly project stopping things from cluttering landfills.

So, before you throw anything in the garbage, I highly recommend throwing things in your recycling bin instead.

Do you want to make money recycling?

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