Make Money Recycling: 8 Everyday Items That Can Make You Extra Cash

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Climate change continues to make headlines, and what have you done to help the environment? If you’ve never seriously considered recycling, there’s no better time than the present.

Plenty of people avoid recycling because they just don’t see enough of a direct benefit to compensate for the extra time and effort needed to sort trash, gather used items and deliver them to the proper location. But what if you could make extra cash while helping to save the planet?

So much of what we toss into our trash bins can be exchanged for money. Used bottles, cans, phones, and boxes are just a few of the discarded items that can be recycled – and with enough recycling, the cash can certainly add up quickly. Plus, you’re left with the warm feeling of knowing you did your part for creating an eco-friendly culture.

make money recycling pinterest bannerInterested in learning how to have a side hustle and make money recycling? Check out the following eight items that can be recycled for cash:

1. Scrap Metal

Metal is one of the most sought-after materials for recycling. Steel, which is used in so many everyday items, is the most recycled material on the planet because it can be recycled and reused over and again without and degradation.

You don’t have to rely solely on items around your house for scrap metal. Try finding scraps when cleaning up your backyard, or volunteer for community clean-up projects and ask if you can keep the scrap that you uncover. Any metal gathered can be used to make money recycling.

Of course, steel isn’t the only metal you can recycle. Some other options include:

• Copper can be found in phones, electrical cords, and other household wiring.
• Brass is commonly used in plumbing joints, pumps, valves and sink hardware.
• Stainless steel is found in water filters, food containers and many kitchen accessories and cookware.
• Aluminum is used in many drink containers, car wheels, engine cylinders, and air-conditioning cores.

2. Ink Cartridges

Printers use a lot of ink, and ink cartridges don’t come cheap. But many companies will buy them back from you once they are empty. Why? They will refill them and resell them, of course.

Used ink cartridges aren’t worth a ton – you can get $2 for each in credit from Staples, for example. But if you recycle yours and collect discarded cartridges from friends and family, you can earn enough each month to pay a bill or tuck some money into savings. Just check out Google to see how many places that will buy them and choose from where you’d like to make money recycling.

3. Used Cooking Oil

Biodiesel is a growing industry that relies on used cooking oil. Collecting it can be a messy task, but you can earn as much as 75 cents per gallon for your efforts. Buyers can be found on Craigslist, or you can look for biodiesel firms like Waste Oil Recyclers that even will come and pick it up for you.

You might not personally use a ton of cooking oil in your own home, but practically everyone you know also uses it. Let them know you are recycling what they would just throw away, and they probably will be happy to let you take the greasy mess off their hands.

4. Wine Corks

Sometimes you can make money recycling from the most unexpected sources. Wine corks, for example, are made of cork, which is a heavily used resource.

Do you drink wine? How many corks do you throw away in a given week, month or year? Once you collect the corks, you can search places like eBay for a buyer. Just list them in lots of 10, 20 or more, and you can turn your love of wine into a modest income – at least enough to pay for one or two more bottles of wine!

5. Cardboard Boxes

As more people turn to online shopping retailers such as Amazon, they collect more used cardboard boxes from their deliveries.

You might not have a need for your discarded boxes, but there’s certain to be someone out there who does. Cardboard boxes can be sold for recycling to places like BoxCycle and BoxSmart. There, people who are planning to move will seek boxes for packing their valuables and purchase them from you, provided they are in good condition.

6. Aluminum Cans

Aluminum cans have long been a way to make money recycling. Not only can you collect your own discarded cans and those of friends and family, but you can further help the environment by picking up cans discarded along roads and sidewalks or in parks and other public spaces. Collecting cans for recycling can be a great activity for kids.

In some states, such as Michigan, aluminum cans from beer and soda have a deposit that can be refunded when you return them. If you are returning more than your own cans, you can make a nice profit on returning them for recycling. In other places, you can sell the cans for scrap metal, in which they are usually worth about a penny apiece – but that can increase in certain locations to as much as 10 cents each.

7. Used Electronics

It’s exciting to buy the latest smartphone – but it definitely is not inexpensive. The good news is that many companies like Gazelle and Decluttr will pay you cash for your old cell phones and other electronics. Eco-Cell, for example, accepts both working and broken phones, tablets, rechargeable batteries, circuit boards, and other electronics.

Plenty of mobile-phone providers, including AT&T and Verizon, will also let you trade-in your used phone for credit or gift cards. You can also get gift cards from Amazon if you trade in your old phones. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you saved the items from being diverted into landfills where some of their more toxic components can pollute the ground.

8. Bottles

It’s no secret that plastic bottles are a menace to our environment. Not only are they produced with petroleum, but once discarded they aren’t exactly biodegradable. Old bottles not only fill up landfills, but they litter our parks and waterways.

Much like aluminum cans, bottles can be collected to make money recycling at many locations. Some states require a deposit when purchasing the bottles that can be refunded to you by returning them – and all those you collect from others – while other places pay you cash for them with rates depending on the size of the bottle.