How to Make Money with Recycling: 14 Things You Can Recycle for Cash

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Do you want to make money with recycling? Here’s a guide on some of the items that you can recycle.

I have searched everywhere to come up with the best things you can recycle for money. I love this topic because it will not only help you make money, you will also be doing the right thing- saving the earth.

So, if you are looking for how to make money with recycling, keep reading.

1. Old Books

Do you have a stack of books that you will not read again? You can make money from recycling used textbooks, dictionaries, and other old books that are gathering dust on your shelf.

You can recycle these items to earn additional income. There are many sites where you can sell these used books to make money. One of such sites is DeCluttr.

DeCluttr is an awesome site that buys used tech, games, textbooks, and other items. To get started, type in the barcode of the book that you intend to sell. Once you do this, you will get the price instantly.

The next step is to pack the books in a box and ship them with a free shipping label that DeCluttr sent to you.

Other platforms where you can sell old books include AbeBooks, Amazon, and Letgo. These apps allow you to snap a picture of the books which you can use while listing your books at a cheaper price.

Ensure you consider the shipping cost before calculating your income.

SEE: Strategies for Earning Without a Job

2. Wine Corks

Although recycling corks will not make you rich, it will help you buy a bottle of wine. There are different places where you can make money from recycling wine corks.

eBay is one of the sites. There are certain products that you can sell on eBay; wine corks are one of the items. Manufacturers and craft makers are willing to pay for these items. The price of each cork is usually around five cents.

Most businesses prefer to buy the corks in bulk; this means they want a box that contains several hundreds of corks.

3. Empty Cans

Most of us have lots of canned pet food, soups, and vegetables. Rather than throwing the cans away, you can trade them for money. If you pile up enough empty cans, you should be able to make about $100 per week from selling the cans.

You can earn extra income by checking out your local recycling center or

4. Trash

Another way through which you can make money with recycling involves recycling trash. Companies such as TerraCycle pay people for the trash they produce every day- thereby getting rid of waste.

Also, Boxcycle gathers used cardboard boxes, pallets, packing materials, and mailers and pays those that supply them with these items.

Furthermore, you can sell your used ink cartridges to Cartridges for Kids, Need Empty, Funding Factory, and US Recycling (more on this later).

SEE: Strategies for Making Money with Junk Removal Service

5. Old Electronics

Whether you want a new tech device or you need some extra cash, you can earn a profit on things you don’t use. Many companies will buy old electronics from you. Such companies include Gazelle, Best Buy, Maxback, and SellCell.

The payment can be made through a gift card, check, or PayPal. Before you sell these items, ensure you back up what you want to keep on a different device.

6. Metal Scraps

This is a great way to make money with scraps.

You can make money with recycling by recycling old batteries, iron, steel, and rare metals into useful products. File cabinets, appliances, and cars contain everyday metals that manufacturers search for.

You can trade these metal scraps for money if you have any laying around.

7. Cars that Cannot be Fixed

If you have junk cars that are not reliable or cannot be sold, you can easily turn them to cash at the junkyard.

You can have an idea of what you could earn from your junk car by comparing junk car buyers such as Cash Cars Buyer and Junk Car Medics.

SEE: How to Have a Successful Yard Sale

8. Pre-Loved Items

When you are cleaning your living area, don’t throw away your pre-loved items; instead, list them in second-hand stores. Platforms such as Instagram, Poshmark Swap, ThredUp, and eBay are some of the second-hand sites where buyers visit.

As you post the items on the platforms, you can save shipping costs for each of the items by bundling the items.

SEE: The Best Brands to Sell on Poshmark

9. Used Cardboard Boxes

Most people get packages from Amazon and these packages contain lots of cardboard boxes. In most cases, these cardboard boxes are given to kids to build their ‘box town.’ When the boxes start falling apart, we usually recycle them.

If you have lots of cardboard boxes, you can make money from them by listing them on BoxCycle ( and selling them to those that live nearby.

People that are moving to new homes need these boxes and BoxCycle has created a platform that makes it easy to sell them.

For your cardboard boxes to be accepted on this platform, ensure they are in good condition.

SEE: Small Business Ideas You Can Start with Little Capital

10. Used Cooking Oil

This is a bit messy but it is another item you can sell to make money with recycling. Biodiesel is a big market and the industry needs used cooking oil. There are lots of people that buy used cooking oil on Craigslist.

Also, biodiesel companies pay about 75 cents per gallon of used cooking oil. Companies buy these oils from restaurants. Notwithstanding, you can save up a couple of yellow greases and sell them to earn extra cash.

To sell the used cooking oil, you can easily find a local buyer and negotiate the price directly with him or her.

11. Ink Cartridges

If you want to make money with recycling, you can consider recycling ink cartridges. Many companies buy spent ink cartridges. The companies refill the ink cartridges and then sell them.

Search on Google and the number of companies doing this will surprise you.

You can earn about $2 per ink cartridge in credit from Staples, up to 20 per month, provided you spend $30 on ink or toner within the past 180 days.

The platform requires you to spend $10 in a particular month but this is not restricted to only ink or toner.

12. Automobile Batteries

Automobile batteries are another items that you can sell to make money with recycling.

Some states charge approximately for a battery core charge or a battery core fee. The specific amount charged by each state varies. Advance Auto Parts give people a $10 gift card for any automobile battery at any of their locations.

13. Fridges and Air Conditioners

When people move into a new home in some cases, they can find items (such as working fridges or air conditioners) left by the previous owners. These electronics may be old and as a result, may not be efficient.

Instead of hauling them away, you can check your utility to see if they will pay you to take them. As part of the utility’s recycling program, they can give you gift cards for any working full-size fridge or air conditioners that they take and recycle.

Apart from being an easy way to make money, it is also an opportunity to make money without any investment.

Getting free gift cards for an item that you would have paid someone to haul away sounds like a great idea. In some states, the utility can pay you $50 for recycling refrigerators and $25 for recycling working air conditioners.

I need to point out that you should check with your utility first because not all utilities offer this.

14. E-Waste

Many companies are willing to pay you for your old cell phones and other forms of electronics. One of such companies is Eco-Cell.

Eco-Cell accepts functioning, old, and broken tablets, phones, chargers, adapters, and different types of electronics.

Since the goal of the company is to get rid of electronics from landfills and safely discard the dangerous materials in the electronics, Eco-Cell will gladly accept any electronic device.

They accept broken electronics and those submerged in water and not working anymore. Mobile service providers, such as AT&T and T-Mobile, offer gift cards when you give them your old phone.

Also, you can try Amazon Trade-In to get gift cards for giving them your old phone.

How Much Can You Make from Recycling?

The amount you make with trashing depends on the items that you’re recycling.

For instance, trash such as can, bottle, or carton can earn you 10 cents. Reverse Vending Machines offer people cash vouchers, electronic payment, or an option to donate.

Also, Over-The-Counter websites can offer you cash refunds while some allow you to donate.

Is There Money in Recycling?

This is one of the questions people ask when they want to know the fact about recycling and profitability. The glass recycling industry employed over 1.1 million people in 2014. This generated about $236 billion in revenue.

This shows that the recycling industry is profitable. However (just like most industries), the market forces can affect the value of a commodity.

How Do You Turn Bottles into Money?

If you live in a state or country that has ‘bottle bills,’ you can take bottles and cans to recycling centers to redeem deposits on the items. You take advantage of this opportunity, find out if there is a bottle bill where you live.

Also, find your local recycling center. Gather bottles and cans, sort them, and take them to your local recycling center.


Can you get rich from recycling?

This depends on the number of items that you recycle and if you are doing this on your own or if you hire people to find items that you can recycle.

For instance, you can earn a little above $0.80 per pound of aluminum that you turn in. States like California and Michigan pay close to $0.10 per can. That amounts to $3.20 per pound when you recycle a couple of cans.

How many cans can you recycle to make $1,000?

To make $1,000 from recycling cans, you need to recycle 10 times what you need to earn $100. You need to recycle 750 cans to earn $100. This means you need to recycle 7500 cans to make $1,000.

What is the most profitable item to recycle?

To get an idea of how massive the recycling industry is, over $800 million worth of aluminum cans are recycled yearly. This makes it the most profitable item to recycle.

Do you need to crush cans before recycling them?

No, you don’t need to crush cans to recycle them. Beer cans and soft drink cans are sent back to their companies to be recycled. Crushing cans can take longer to identify and separate the cans. This can make you wait longer to get paid.


This article has shown you how you can make money with recycling. From this article, you can deduce that you don’t need to be limited to traditional sources before you can make money.

There are many ways through which you can make money around you, and it is your job to spot and use these opportunities.

Recycling the items that you are no longer using is a great way to earn additional income while making the environment safer and more sustainable.

If you are ready to make money with recycling, you can start by recycling books. Old books are good items that you can recycle since they are easy to find. We all have books that we’re no longer using.

Apart from being easy to find, it is also easy to sell them.

Another item that you can sell to make money with recycling is an aluminum can. Empty aluminum cans are the most profitable items that you can recycle. Recycling enough aluminum cans can earn you about $100 per week.

Since recycling involves making the environment safer, you might also be interested in other ways you can make money without harming the environment. Check out these green business ideas to find out more ways you can make money.

Thanks for reading.