How to Make Money Recycling



How to Make Money Recycling

Did you know that the average American creates more than 4 pounds of trash every day?

This figure is indeed alarming, knowing that trash is probably one of the biggest problems globally. 

As dwellers here on Earth, it is our moral obligation to reduce the trash that we’re creating. One way of doing so is through recycling. The process of converting our waste into reusable materials is beneficial in so many ways. When you recycle things, you’re clearly making the world a better place. And oh, you can make money from it too! 

Do you want to learn how to make money recycling? Read on to learn how to turn these trash into money. 

Why Do You Need to Recycle? 

Recycling is the process of making new products out of trash. It can benefit not just your environment but your community as well. Alongside reducing and reusing, recycling can help alleviate our global waste problem. 

Here are some of the reasons why you should start recycling now: 

  • It helps conserve natural resources, especially those that are already in very short supply. You help save trees and forests when you recycle wood and paper. 
  • It protects the wildlife and ecosystem. When you recycle items, you reduce the need to harvest or grow raw materials from Earth. This results in few wild animals displaced or harmed, rivers diverted and forests cut down. You also help lessen the air, soil and water pollution. 
  • Making products from new raw materials would require more energy than manufacturing products from recycled materials. 
  • It reduces landfill waste and cuts climate-changing carbon emissions. 

How to Make Money Recycling

Why trash items when you can recycle them? 

Recycling is for a good cause. You help divert these items from the waste stream and keep them out of our landfills. It doesn’t hurt that you can make a few bucks out of this good deed too. From ink cartridges, construction materials to metal, there are tons of items that you can collect and recycle for money. 

Bottles and Cans


Bottles and cans are the second most recycled materials in the United States. They include plastic, glass, and metal/aluminum containers. 

Empty bottles and cans are an eyesore when they are just lying around. Collect them and cash them in for money. It’s a win-win effort! You will have a cleaner surrounding and more money in your pocket. 

A lot of states would pay you for returning used bottles and cans. Though the deposit amount varies per state, you can collect a decent amount of money, especially if you are diligent in collecting these kinds of trash. You will get an average of 5 cents to 10 cents deposit per bottle or can. You pay the deposit upon purchase and you can redeem the coins back once you have returned the empty bottles. It’s definitely a wise move in getting a little change back in your pocket. 

You can take your recycling game a notch if you want to earn more money. If you could collect 1,000 cans per week, you can go home with $100 in your pocket. States that currently have bottle bills include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont. 

How can you collect more cans? 

You can ask your family, friends, and neighbors. You can also collect cans from your workplace or local businesses. Just make sure that you ask permission first before you rummage the trash can. 

Scrap Metal

The United States has one of the largest scrap metal exports in the world. Through metal scrap recycling, we can help lower down the amount of ore mining globally. Unfortunately, a lot of metal scraps end up getting tossed in the garbage since we lack knowledge in metal recycling. 

One of the first steps that you must know in recycling metal scraps is to determine if you have ferrous or non-ferrous metal. Here’s a tip on how you can assess your metal value: use a magnet. 

You got a ferrous metal if the magnet sticks to it. You can bring it to your local scrap yard, though you won’t get paid that much. Steel and iron are the most common ferrous metals. 

On the other hand, if the magnet doesn’t stick to the metal, then you have non-ferrous in your hand. These metals are worth more money when you sell them. Bronze, stainless steel, brass, aluminum, and copper are non-ferrous metals. 

Here are some of the items that you can find in your household or neighborhood and turn them in for cash:

  • Stainless steel – Cookware, kitchen accessories, food container, water filters. 
  • Brass – Machinery parts, valves, pumps, old plumbing joints, sink taps. 
  • Aluminum – Cores from air-conditioning units, cylinders from engines, wheels from the car, drink vessels. 
  • Copper – Electrical cords, phones and clean copper wire inside the wiring of your house. 

Car Batteries

If you owned a car or other motorized vehicles for several years, chances are you find few old batteries in your garage. 

Batteries could be harmful to the environment, especially if you don’t dispose of them properly. There are a lot of eco-friendly companies that will pay you for your old car batteries. 

Search your home, backyard or garage for any old car batteries. You can also ask around your family, friends or co-worker if they have old batteries that they would like to recycle. 

Here are some of the best places to sell your used car batteries:

  • The local auto parts store 
  • Scrap yards
  • Metal recycling centers
  • Craigslist
  • Auto repair shops
  • Pull-A-Part
  • Pawnshops
  • eBay
  • Peddle
  • iScrap App
  • Newspaper Classifieds
  • Yardsale


old cellphones

A golden piece of advice: Never throw your old electronic device in the garbage.

First, electronic devices may contain toxins inside that could harm the environment if they wound up in landfills. Second, throwing away an old electronic device, even if it’s broken, is equivalent to throwing away your money. 

You can either be a good Samaritan and donate them for a good cause, or sell them for money. Here are some tips on how you can make money out of your electronic devices. 

  • Trade them to retailers for cash. Target’s NextWorth, Amazon, Apple’s Recycling Program and GameStop are some options to swap your old electronic devices for some cash, gift cards or points. 
  • Sell them online on eBay, Gazelle, Amazon or Craigslist. 
  • Donate them to schools, shelters or non-profit organizations in your area. 

If you think your electronic devices are too old to sell or donate or is already broken, then you can take advantage of free recycling services offered by some retailers. Here are some of your options:, Earth911 and Greener Gadgets

Ink Cartridges

Refilling empty cartridges could be too messy. It’s no wonder they could easily pile up in your desk and add to the clutter. 

Of course, you can’t just dispose ink cartridges carelessly as they could end up in landfills and could be harmful to the environment. So what’s the solution to your problem? Recycling! You can make money by recycling your empty ink or toner cartridges. 

How can you make money from recycling your ink cartridge? 

Here are some of the tips that you can follow:

  • Sell them on eBay. YOu can sell multiple cartridges at once to make more money. 
  • Take them to an office supply store such as Staples and OfficeDepot. You can earn $2 in store credit for each qualifying cartridge that you bring. You can turn in a maximum of 10 empty cartridges per month. Making $20 a month for empty cartridges is not bad at all. 
  • Use buy-back websites such as Evolve Recycling

Junk Cars

When you junk an old car, you obviously need money to buy a new one. It would be great if you can make some money out of your old car. 

Before you decide to sell your junk car for the scrap yard, you need to clean it up first. This will boost some extra cash that you can take home. Additionally, you can bargain for a better price if you know the value of your car. You can sell your car as a whole, or you can sell its different parts. 

To get the best deal for your junk car, take your time and shop around. Contact several dealers and compare different quotes for your car and its parts.  

The United States recycles 12 million cars every year. This figure pretty much gives you a promising opportunity to make money out of your old car. 

Gift Cards

Gift cards are one of the most common presents that we receive on birthdays or holidays. After we’ve spent them, they may seem of no use anymore. 

This is where you are mistaken. 

You can still put used or old gift cards to good use by recycling them. Most of the gift cards are made from PVC which is a recyclable material. You can contact the retailer to see if they recycle gift cards. If they do, you can bundle your used or expired ones and send it back to them. You can also send them to recycling centers where new products are created out of the plastic material.

Lastly, if you’re feeling crafty, you can create a variety of projects using your old gift card. You can turn them into greeting cards or use them as scrapbook embellishments. 

Wine Corks

wine corks

You may not be able to recycle wine corks in a traditional way but you can certainly find ways to put them to good use and earn a little cash. 

If you have a pile of wine corks sitting somewhere in your house, it’s time to parade them online and find a buyer. eBay is one of the best platforms to turn these wine corks into cash. 

Though you can both sell synthetic and natural corks, synthetic ones are not as marketable as the natural corks. Provide specific descriptions in your listing to attract more potential customers. Each cork sells around 10 cents but you can charge more if you have a rare type of cork. 

Of course, you can tap into your creative mind and produce different products out of wine corks. For example, you can cut or slice them and form a mulch for your plants. Corks are popular amongst orchid growers as it helps these plants hold onto moisture. 

Cooking Oil

We use cooking oil for almost everything – from sauteed vegetables to pan-fried pork chops. 

Should we pour it down the drain after use? 

Absolutely not! 

Cooking oil may wreak havoc to drains and sewage pipes. You can collect used cooking oil and sell it for some extra cash. 

Use plastic butter containers or metal coffee cans to collect your used cooking oil. There are tons of local buyers in your area that buys used cooking oil. You can also create a listing on Craigslist. 

Additionally, if you own a restaurant or work in a food-service industry, you can sell used cooking oil to biodiesel firms. You make more money when you sell them in massive quantities.

Your Unused Stuff

Pile of clothes

Do you feel cramped with things occupying so much space in your house? 

Most of us have a bursting closet filled with so many clothes, shoes or bags. And a huge part of this population are things that we’re no longer using. If you haven’t used them in the past few months, more chances are you won’t be using them anymore. 

So why hold on to this junk? 

It’s time to let go of the things that you are no longer using and clear up space. If you need a little motivation, you can make money out of this arduous task. Collect all the things that you are no longer using and organize a garage sale. You can also rent a booth at your local flea market and display your goods.  Your junk could turn out to be someone else’s treasure. 

Additionally, you can sell this stuff online. Facebook marketplace, eBay, Letgo, and Decluttr are some of the best platforms to find interested buyers. Decluttering is clearly beneficial. It’s nice to come home to a spacious and clutter-free home while having earned some extra cash. 

Final Words

There are tons of opportunities to make money, as long as you know how and where to look. 

Leveraging on these junks to earn extra cash is definitely a smart idea. When you recycle things, you’re not only doing your part to make this world a better place. You are also being resourceful in finding ways to make money out of this endeavor. 

Do you want to learn more about how to make money online? Click here to know more. 

C. James

C. James is the managing editor at Wealth Gang. He has a degree in finance and a passion for creating passive income streams and wealth management.