UPDATED: July 26, 2021

IF you have been keeping up with the recent rise in care and interest in the environment then you would know that the world is moving to a more responsible and ecologically conscious state of mind. With everyone looking to make things more sustainable and manufacturers wanting to save money, there has been a recent surge in popularity in recycling various products.

The greener approach to manufacturing and saving resources has led many companies to look at recycling to reuse materials and help out the environment. Thankfully for normal people, recycling for money and selling it to companies is now a viable option. To help give you an insight into the recycling industry and what things you can recycle for money, we’ll look at how you can take what is otherwise trash and turn it into some easy money. 

Cashing In with Recycling 

If you are looking to make some extra money on the side, collecting recyclables for a profit can be a viable way to make some money. If you look at the amount of material that is recycled every year to make new goods, it is easy to see a high demand for raw materials to make new again. While companies can collect their materials themselves, there are a number of opportunities for normal people to collect the materials themselves. 

Whether it is cans or scrap metal, there are companies who will pay top dollar to anyone who will collect various materials for production. If you are willing to go looking and get your hands dirty then there is a whole world of recyclables that could be making you money. Before we look in more detail at what exactly you should look to recycle for money, let’s look at the general process that goes into finding recyclables and turning them in for money.

How Recycling Can Make You Money

1. Find Items Needing to Be Recycled

Before leaving to go and find things to recycle, you first need to understand what you can and cannot recycle. In general, most things that can be recycled are able to be used again and are not organic. This means that they are made of plastics, metal, or sometimes paper. While not everything made of these materials can be recycled, there are usually labels and stickers on products that indicate if they can be recycled. 

If you are aware of current demands or needs from local recycling plants, you can probably get a better deal if you look for those materials. Some items are harder to find and recycle than others and may cause some people to pay a premium if you can collect the materials. There are also materials that we will look at later that are very easy to find and always accepted. 

2. Collect the Items

Now that you have outlined what it is you will go looking for, now you can go and find it. Depending on what it is you are looking to get recycled, where you look and how hard items are to find can vary greatly. Many items can be found around your home or trash that would otherwise just be going to the landfill. If you know what you are looking for, you can often find profitable recycling material almost anywhere.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can find valued recyclables all over the place. Looking in public trash cans and busy areas can often hide gems for recycling that can have you making decent money in no time at all. Many people also look in dumpsters of popular areas to find old and broken electronics and plastics that could be sold for scrap.

3. Find a Recycling Facility

Now that you have gathered or plan on finding your recycling materials, you have to find somewhere you can take them to be recycled. Depending on where you live, this could be a relatively easy or complex process. For things like bottles and cans, many supermarkets have special machines that will give you money for putting in bottles and cans in large quantities. While this may take some time and a lot of cans to make worthwhile, it’s a convenient option.

If you know of any local scrap yards or recycling plants, you can often go directly to them with goods. Things like large amounts of scrap metal and paper can be just what those plants are looking for and they will pay you in exchange for your goods. Do some digging around to see who is near you and what they could offer you for recyclables before going and collecting things that may not be accepted. 

4. Collect Money

With the hard parts over, you can now collect your reward. The money collection may occur in different forms and amounts based on what and where you are recycling. For things like bottles and cans, you can often get money or credit to the store you take them to and where they are counted automatically. If you go to a larger facility with more industrial focused recycling, they may offer you larger amounts of money for valuable resources. 

Top Things to Recycle for Money

With a basic understanding of how you can go about recycling goods, it is now time to look at some of the best things you can recycle. These items all range in availability and price but finding the one you think is easiest to find will be your best bet. 

1. Aluminum Cans 

Far and away the most popular recycling item, aluminum cans can be found almost everywhere and in large quantities. These cans are so popular in fact that most of the cans used today have already been recycled at one point. Because of this high demand, there is always a need for aluminum cans to be recycled.

At around $0.05 a can, these cans really show their value when you collect high numbers and take them to the right facilities. Most recycling plants and shopping centers have machines to collect these cans because there are so many of them and many people use them to make a quick buck. 

2. Tires and Car Batteries

On nearly the opposite end of the spectrum as the cans, car tires and batteries are a great find. With rubber being hard to produce and batteries being even harder to make, companies love to buy old tires and batteries to make new again. While they are certainly harder to find than just bottles and cans, knowing where to look could see you making a nice profit.

With tires selling anywhere from 1 to 25 dollars depending on condition and size, hunting down old tires can make you a generous amount of money with not too much effort. Car batteries generally sell for around 5 dollars, so looking for both catteries and tires could make for a good pairing. 

3. Scrap Metal

Scrap metal is an interesting option because you have to go looking for it to be worthwhile. With prices differing greatly from metal to metal, you can either look for everything or get more specialized for better value. For example, aluminum is worth around $0.20 per pound while copper can easily make around $1.60 per pound.

Because of this variation in prices, it can be good to specialize in one type of metal to sell as you will find it easier. Large things like car frames can be sold as scrap metal and can make for a nice amount of money. 

4. Plastic and Glass

Recycling plastic bottles for money has been a very similar trend to that of aluminum cans and glass bottles. With so much plastic being used very day, there will always be a demand for more plastic that can be recycled. Plastic bottles and glass bottles are both rather easy to come by so you shouldn’t have much trouble hunting them down.

Unfortunately, these two materials are some of the cheapest as they are hard to recycle effectively and are not always in high demand by recycling companies. 

5. Books and Newspapers

Paper is an interesting option for recycling as it seems to be very easy to find yet goes for a very good price. The trick with paper is finding the right kinds to get recycled. While newspapers are easy to find and can make you some decent money, you are going to get much more value if you find higher quality paper.

Book paper and office grade paper is much more sought after and can usually get you almost double what you would get for newspaper. Similar to cans, paper is an item that gets more valuable in higher quantities. 

Key Takeaways

Recycling is a great way to help save the planet while also making a few extra dollars in the process. Getting cash for what other people are throwing out may seem too easy to be true, but its reality. If you put in the time and effort to find the right goods, you could be making money that would otherwise just be thrown away.