How To Make $150 Per Week Recycling Aluminum Cans

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Recycling aluminum cans can be a surprisingly lucrative side hustle. However, it involves some work and time, so you need to know how to make as much money as possible for your time investment.

Fortunately, getting started recycling aluminum cans requires almost no money and you could start today! All you’ll need are some locations with a lot of aluminum cans and a few trash bags to collect them with.

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How Much Can I Earn At Scrapyards And Recycling Centers?

Aluminum is a commodity, so it has a price that is constantly shifting based on market supply and demand. Recyclers and scrapyards generally pay about half the market price for aluminum, give or take a couple of cents.

Some recyclers will try to low-ball you, but you can actually negotiate a few cents per pound upwards to nab some more earnings. Knowing the market price for recycling aluminum cans will aid you in your negotiations.

Oh, and since the price of aluminum is changing every day, you’ll want to get your quote in writing when you bring your cans to a recycler. They don’t pay you right away, so a written agreement can give you peace of mind that you’ll get paid fairly.

Fortunately, an app/website called iScrapp aggregates scrapyard pricing data in your area. You can check exactly what scrapyards in your area are paying for aluminum, so no need to worry about driving around to several scrapyards to find the best price.

Boost Your Earnings In “Bottle Bill” States

If you’re lucky, you live in a state that offers a minimum per-can price.

Several US states have bottle deposits laws on the books, also known as Bottle Bills. These states require minimum payouts on recycled cans and bottles. Thus, you can disregard aluminum prices in these states.

Payouts generally range from 5-10 cents per can or bottle, depending on the size and volume, so your profit potential is huge in these bottle bill states. Aluminum’s market price may fluctuate day-to-day, but if you do the math, you won’t even earn $0.02 per can in non-bottle bill states. That’s not to say that residents of non-bottle bill states shouldn’t collect cans though since it’s such an easy way to earn extra income.

So if you live in a bottle bill state, start collecting those cans. A big haul of 1500 cans in one week, for example, earns you $150. That could be your groceries or your car payment for the month!

Now, 1,500 cans might sound like a lot. However, as you’ll see below, there are aluminum cans in tons of places. Collecting 1,500 per week is quite doable if you peruse many of these areas.

Which States Have Bottle Bills?

If you live in one of the following states, recycling aluminum cans will be much more lucrative:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Guam

Where To Find Aluminum Cans To Recycle

Now that you know the earning potential from recycling aluminum cans, you probably want to know where to find them. There are numerous places to seek out aluminum cans, many of them hiding in plain sight.

At Home

Families that go through a lot of soft drinks and/or beer don’t even have to step outside their front door to start collecting cans. If you aren’t collecting your cans already, start now! Designate a trash can to hold all your empty aluminum cans and let your family know of your new can collection policy.

For those who live in a bottle bill state, it’s even more important given the potential earnings on recycling aluminum cans.

Around Your Neighborhood

Chances are you have a few neighbors that don’t recycle their cans and would be more than happy to give them to you.

Avoid searching through neighbor’s trash without their permission. For one, it’s not very classy. It’s also illegal to do so in many states. Always get permission from neighbors and friends before collecting their cans.

Sporting Events

Sporting events are a gold mine for aluminum cans. The larger the sporting event, the better. Just think about how many beer cans are strewn across the ground after a whole day of tailgating on a big game day, not to mention the soda pop cans from those who are not of legal drinking age.

If you aren’t very interested in the sports game happening that day, you could easily walk away with hundreds of cans. As a bonus, you’re helping the environment by cleaning up trash!

Concerts And Festivals

Concerts and festivals are also excellent outdoor events ripe for collecting recyclable aluminum cans. Again, larger events almost always have more empty aluminum cans lying around.

Music festivals are a combination of these two sources of aluminum cans, and they bring the best of both worlds. Music festival attendees tend to drink a ton, and music festivals usually happen in wide-open areas, you can quickly grab hundreds of cans without having to look too hard.

If you live near a popular concert or festival venue, consider paying a visit more often.

Your Employer

Did you know that your own employer could be an additional source for recycling aluminum cans? Your office probably has a vending machine, meaning there’s bound to be aluminum cans somewhere. Just ask for your company’s permission to collect the cans and take them home with you to top of your aluminum can collection.

You may have to bring garbage bags if your employer doesn’t have extras. A small price to pay for an additional source of aluminum cans, though.

Local Businesses

If your employer has aluminum cans, that means other local businesses are going to have their own. Many businesses don’t care all that much about the fate of their aluminum cans, so why not ask them to set up your own recycling bin in their breakrooms? Doing so could build some level of passiveness into your recycling efforts.

Recycling Aluminum Cans: Where To Sell

Once you’ve gathered hundreds or even thousands of cans, it’s time to convert them into dollars.

If you live in a bottle bill state, getting paid for recycling aluminum cans is easy, if not a little sticky. Many grocery stores and supermarkets provide machines for both glass and aluminum/plastic cans and bottles. Just lug your can-filled bags to the store, head over to the machine that takes aluminum, and start loading them in! Most stores spit out a slip of paper at the end with your total earnings; you can redeem this with a cashier.

If you don’t live in a bottle bill state, you’ll have to find recycling centers near you. You can hop on Google and look for recycling centers near you. Alternatively, sites like let you search by zip code so you can quickly find local recyclers.

Each recycler may offer a different price for the same aluminum. Do your research beforehand to maximize your payout. Again, use iScrapp if you want to know what prices you can get before you head to a recycler.

Low-Effort Extra Income

Truthfully, recycling aluminum cans won’t let you quit your job or everyone would be doing it. What it will do is provide a little extra financial cushion without having to learn any skills or start a side business.

If you have enough free time, you could make enough to cover some small bills with only a few hours of can collecting a week.

Start collecting cans if you want an easy, inexpensive side hustle. You can start as early as right now!