How to Make Money Recycling Paper, Plastic, Cans & Scrap Metal

Looking for a little extra income? Willing to put in quite a lot of work for a potentially small payday? Start recycling items for cash. While the most common (and most-well known) way to recycle for money is by turning in aluminum beer and soda cans or plastic water bottles, there are actually a bunch of different products that can be recycled into money in your pocket. In these economic times every little bit counts, so I figured I would put a post together about the ways you can start recycling to put some scratch into your bank account. Let’s take a look at a few of them…

The old standby – aluminum cans. Whether your state has a put a deposit value on each can or not, aluminum cans are worth money if collected and turned in for recycling. With can deposits, collectors get back whatever the deposit amount is (it was $.05/can where I grew up. In areas without deposits, the cans are recycled for by the pound. One couple even paid for their wedding by recycling cans. They got back $3,800 in proceeds from recycling 400,000 cans, which is just about $.01/can. Regular old aluminum from such items as car and boat parts, household utensils, and skiing equipment is also recyclable by the pound.

Plastic bottles are also worth money, depending on your locale. Not every type of plastic is recyclable, so check with your local recycler, but chances are this plastic is also worth something as weighed by the pound. There are 7 different types of plastic and each has their own code # and use.

Don’t toss that glass without recycling it! Glass is accepted at most recycling centers, and some centers still pay for it by weight. Drinking glasses, food storage jars, single-pane windows, vases — you name it, if it’s clear glass it’s probably recyclable for some extra money. Glass bottles, like for beer, also can have that deposit I mentioned above when talking about aluminum cans, so be on the lookout for them.

Paper is recyclable, but it’s going to take a lot of it to make any money. Paper doesn’t weigh much and the per ton rate is somewhere in the neighborhood of $50-$75. That’s a lot of paper to store in your backyard before bringing it over to the recycling center, but I suppose every dime counts. This includes cardboard, phone books, and scrap paper.

Scrap metal is a big seller right now. Quite often on the news we hear about copper piping and wiring being stolen out of new homes being constructed, and there is a reason for that; it’s worth a small fortune. But copper isn’t the only metal worth recycling for money. You can also recycle metal window frames, gutters, bed frames, stainless steel sinks, filing cabinets, and even parts from retired appliances. The town dump where I grew up, while they say it isn’t allowed, still allows town residents to dig through their scrap metal pile. Sometimes they can find a perfectly good chair to sit in, but most of it is scrap – and could be worth money to scrap metal dealer.

Recycle those electronics for cash. Just a few weeks ago I wrote about what to do with old cell phones, and the list included ways to make money from recycling them. Well, the same goes for the other electronics in your home. Most all of it probably worth something to somebody, so keep that in mind before sending it straight to the recycling center that doesn’t pay for goods.

If you need help finding facilities near you or just more information on how to recycle different products for money, check out the following websites:

Happy hunting!

Photo by bucklava

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Comments (5)

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  1. Ed Tyner says:

    This is a good post and 100% true. When I was growing up we recycled everything you mentioned above plus even batteries. We didn’t get alot of money for certain types of things, but every penny helped back then. Metal always gave us the most cash. We would go around and find people who had old heat pumps, cars, lawn mowers you name it and offer them alittle money for them. Most time they would give us the stuff just to haul it off for them. We would strip the stuff down and make a nice chunk of money from it. It’s not easy work, but hey when you really struggling for cash. This type of work can really help.

  2. Tara says:

    I saved soda cans for all of last year and got $17 for them. I still save and turn them in. It’s not much, but it’s a nice lunch out or 1/2 a tank of gas, so I’ll keep doing it.

  3. David says:

    Aluminum and copper have really risen in price. I check Craigslist to find people who are giving away old aluminum rims for free, and they are worth $25 at my local junkyard. A set of 4 is worth $100.

  4. Gabriel says:

    Pls, is it possible to export these things in large qtys. I’m from nigeria.