8 Easy Ways To Make Money Recycling

We’re huge fans of recycling. It’s good for the planet, the turtles – and aligning our moral compass. But did you know you could also save and, most importantly, make money recycling?

Yup, your plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, old phones, and many others were once-awesome things that could be turned into cash that you can spend, save or invest.

You can make good money recycling – and it’s super easy because you already have everything you need to get started. In fact, not doing it would be literally throwing away an opportunity to make money.

8 Ways to Make Money Recycling

Here’s how you can start recycling for cash:

  1. Make Money Recycling Old Books
  2. Make Money Recycling Cardboard Boxes
  3. Make Money Recycling Glass Bottles & Aluminum Cans
  4. Make Money Recycling Used Ink Cartridges
  5. Make Money Recycling Scrap Metal
  6. Make Money Recycling Unused Electronics
  7. Make Money Recycling Wine Corks
  8. Make Money Recycling Old Car Batteries

1. Make Money Recycling Old Books

Got a stack of books you know you’ll never ever read again? Used textbooks, dictionaries – and other stuff that used to be read – but are now collecting dust on your bookshelf? Then recycle them to make some extra cash!

DeCluttr is a great site for book-selling. They buy used textbooks, tech, games, and other stuff. All you’ll need to do is to type in the barcode of the book you want to sell – and you’ll get an instant price. You will then pack the items up in a box – and ship them off using a free shipping label DeCluttr will have sent to you.

Amazon Trade-In is also great for quickly selling textbooks you no longer need. Enter the book’s ISBN to see how much you can get for it.

2. Make Money Recycling Cardboard Boxes

Move recently? Order way too many packages from Amazon Prime? Well, if you have let your garage fill up with cardboard boxes, you are in luck.

You can list your cardboard boxes on a site like BoxCycle and it will let people in your area see that you have them for sale!

People are always in need of boxes for moving and do not want to pay top dollar for them, so quit putting them in the trash and recycle them by letting others purchase them from you at a lower rate!

3. Make Money Recycling Glass Bottles and Aluminum Cans

No one likes seeing empty bottles and cans lying around after a party or a big family event. It’s a sad sight – mainly because you know you’ll be the one who needs to get rid of it all somehow. Want an easy way to do that – and make money? Cash them in!

Many states will pay you for returning your used bottles and cans.

While we’re not suggesting you go collecting bottles and cans from your neighbors’ trash, cashing in the aluminum cans and glass bottles that have accumulated in your household is a smart way to make money without doing much.

The deposits offered will differ between states. For example, in Michigan, you’ll get 10 cents for most plastic and glass bottles or cans, while many other states offer only 5 cents. Don’t laugh, but the 10-cent deposit has led to some people illegally smuggling in cans! We don’t recommend doing that, though.

Check the bottle and can deposit rates in your local area to find out how much you could get.

4. Make Money Recycling Used Ink Cartridges

Got a bunch of empty ink cartridges in your drawer? You can make good money (and get rid of clutter) by selling or recycling them. Many office supply stores like Staples and OfficeMax offer rewards for recycling.

Each empty ink cartridge you turn in could earn you $2 store credit. If you use a lot of ink, you could be making up to $20 a month! Just imagine all the things you could buy with that (more ink?).

Alternatively, you could sell your ink cartridges on sites like Craigslist or eBay. Selling stuff online is super easy since you can create a location-specific post and sell to people in your area. Make sure you don’t share too much of your private information on Craigslist and always be cautious. Scams happen, you know.

Selling on eBay may require a little more effort – but you can also make more than just a couple of dollars. We’ve seen 8 empty ink cartridges being sold for nearly $40 – and that’s pretty good.

5. Make Money Recycling Scrap Metal

Metal is definitely one of the most sought-after materials when it comes to recycling. Steel is actually the most recycled material on the planet. Why? Because it can be recycled over and over again without any degradation in its performance.

So, if you’re looking to clean up your backyard, help the environment, and make some money – recycling scrap metal is the right thing to do.

Bear in mind that metals that are ferrous (like steel or iron) are worth less than non-ferrous metals like copper, brass, aluminum, bronze, or stainless steel.

A good way to determine whether a metal is ferrous or non-ferrous is by using a magnet. If the magnet sticks to it – it’s ferrous. Non-ferrous is what you want to be going for to make the big bucks – but remember that recycling the ferrous metals is just as good for the environment!

Some examples of items that’ll help you make more money are:

  • Copper: phones, electrical cords, the clean copper wire inside the wiring of your house
  • Aluminum: drink vessels, wheels from your car, cylinders from engines, cores from air-conditioning units, etc.
  • Brass: sink taps, old plumbing joints, pumps, valves, machinery parts, etc.
  • Stainless steel: water filters, food containers – and many other kitchen accessories and cookware

So, round up your metal and take it all to the nearest scrapyard for a cash reward. Not sure where to find your local scrapyard? Don’t worry, there’s an app for that! iScrapApp will help you locate your nearest scrapyard in no time.

6. Make Money Recycling Unused Electronics

If you’re someone who has a couple of old phones lying around “just in case you ever need them,” sorry to burst your bubble – but you’re lying to yourself. You won’t need them. What you need to do is recycle those phones and make some money you can use towards a new device that’ll be a lot more useful.

Plenty of companies offer cash for tech. Take Decluttr, for example. It’s a platform that allows you to sell your old phone, tablet, watch or even buy used phones.

Decluttr takes all the hard work out of selling used tech: all you need to do is tell the site what you want to sell, and it’ll give you a price. You’ll then ship your item off for free with a prepaid shipping label the site will send you – and they’ll pay through PayPal, direct deposit, or to a charity of your choice. Ideal.

For batteries, you could use Eco-Cell. The company’s ethos is to prevent these items from ending up in a landfill – and you can contribute to that (while making money)!

7. Make Money Recycling Wine Corks

Big news, everyone. Your wine corks are worth money!  Yes – you can turn your pile of wine corks that have accumulated over the years into cash.  I know it’s odd, but corks are a heavily used resource.

While recycling corks won’t make you a millionaire – it’ll definitely pay for another wine bottle (or two).

So, how does one turn wine corks into cash? eBay is a great place to start. You’ll find all kinds of weird items being sold on eBay, wine corks included.  You can sell them in lots of say, 10, 20 – or a lot more (depends on how much you have loved wine over the past years!).

8. Make Money Recycling Old Car Batteries

There’s no use for car batteries once they start breaking down. Luckily, you can turn them into cash at your next auto part shops such as Advance Auto or AutoZone.

You can get paid as much as $10 per battery. Not bad for something that would have just been left lying around in your garage, right?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is recycling a good way to make money?

Recycling for money will not replace your day job, but the great part of it is, that you don’t have to do anything to make this happen, you already use these items, so just save them up and go get paid for them once you run out of room!

What is the most profitable item to recycle?

Scrap metal is the most sought-after recyclable item that you can make the most money off of.

Get Paid to Recycle

Making money doesn’t have to be limited to traditional sources.

Original ways to make extra money are all around us, and it’s our job to spot and use them. Recycling things you no longer need or use is a great way to earn some extra money while showing that you’re not indifferent to the waste crisis – and are doing something about it.

So, have a good look around – what can you turn into cash right now?

Tell us what you’ve managed to recycle, and how. How much money did you make? Do you have any other recommendations for recycling for cash? Share them with us. Sharing is caring, after all.

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    Love this, I'm a big fan of sustainable and there's no better way to do it when you make money off it!