Disposing of recyclables is easy when it’s an item you can put in your recycling container and move out to the curb for pick-up services. What about the items that can’t be recycled curbside? Did you know that those items can put cash in your pocket? Here are the top 10 ways to make money with recyclables.
#1 – Cash in Your Car Batteries
Save up your car batteries and bring them to a scrap metal company or scrap yard. You may not get a lot of cash, but the amount you do get can add up. People report getting around 20 to 30 cents per pound for lead batteries.
Another option is to look at the battery and see if there’s a sticker showing where it came from. Some states require people to pay an environmental fee/deposit when buying a new battery. You get that fee back when you trade in an old battery. Some stores require you to buy a new battery at the time, others will give you store credit for a future purchase. Rules vary. For example, Vermont charges $22, and that $22 plus tax is refunded with an old battery.
#2 – Redeem Your Bottles and Cans
Not every state has people paying a deposit on their beer/malt beverages and liquor bottles and cans, but these do.
- California – 5 cents (under 24 ounces) or 10 cents (over 24 ounces)
- Connecticut – 5 cents
- Hawaii – 5 cents
- Iowa – 5 cents
- Maine – 5 cents or 15 cents (liquor bottles)
- Massachusetts – 5 cents
- Michigan – 10 cents
- New York – 5 cents
- Oregon – 10 cents
- Vermont – 5 cents or 15 cents (liquor bottles)
Collect boxes or bags full of bags you find on the roadside or that you have in your home and bring them to a redemption center. You get the cash total for the deposits on those bottles. If you collect 200 cans and get 5 cents each, that’s $10 cash.
#3 – Get Cash for Your Pristine Cardboard Boxes
Most people recycle their cardboard boxes. If you have some in good shape, you can get cash for them. Sites like BoxCycle buy boxes that have never been wet, do not have any odor, haven’t been broken down, and have no damage. If you have boxes that meet those requirements, you can earn as much as $10 a box depending on the dimensions and type of box.
#4 – Earn Store Credit for Used Clothing
Instead of tossing out your used clothing, trade it for store credit at stores like H&M, Levis, The North Face, and Patagonia. How much can you get? Here are some examples.
- H&M: H&M has the Close the Loop program. You can bring any brand of clothing to an H&M store and get a 15% off coupon for your next purchase. The collection boxes are near the registers. Clothing that is donated is sold second-hand, turned into new products, or shredded into fibers that are used to make insulation and other materials.
- Levi’s: Levi’s SecondHand program is good only on men’s and women’s Levi’s brand jeans and denim jackets. Bring your used Levi’s items to the store and get a gift card. Clothing must be in good shape as it is professionally cleaned and goes into the second-hand store.
- The North Face: Clothes the Loop is The North Face’s program that allows you to return any used footwear and apparel. It doesn’t matter what brand it is or how worn it is, bring the items to your local The North Face store or outlet to get a $10 coupon off your next purchase of $100 or more.
- Patagonia: Go to the Worn Wear section of Patagonia’s website. Any Patagonia brand clothing or items like luggage that are still in like-new condition with working zippers, snaps, etc. gets you credit to use on new or used clothing within Patagonia. There are limitations, such as no underwear, bras, footwear, and hats.
Before you head to your local retailer, call the store to ask about current policies. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some stores to temporarily stop accepting used items. Once the pandemic is over, stores are expected to return to normal collection policies.
#5 – Cash in Your Unneeded Electronics
If you have used electronics like smartphones, printers, laptops, and game systems that still have value, you can get cash for them. Even if there is some damage, electronics recycling companies like ERI may find they have value and are good candidates for refurbishing.
Don’t discount the value of some older electronics. The dot matrix printer you feel is worthless may have a lot of value to someone looking for parts. The same is true of the old CRT monitors.
#6 – Get Cash for Ink and Toner Cartridges
Save your empty ink and toner cartridges. If you bring them to Staples, you get in-store credit for your next purchase. If you don’t plan to buy your replacement cartridges from that store, look online for sites that pay cash for empty cartridges. You may need a PayPal account to receive the money you’re due.
Will you get a lot of money selling ink cartridges online? Probably not, but it adds up. At InkRecycling.org, two HP Black 21 cartridges get you 40 cents. The more you have, the more you get.
#7 – Sell Your Scrap Metal
All of the scrap metal you have in your house does have value. The copper plumbing pieces that were left over after your house was built is worth saving up. The brake rotors sitting in your garage after you replaced your brakes. Metal from old appliances is valuable. Tin, steel, and brass are also worth money. Load up your truck, look for your local scrap metal facility, and call to see what they’re offering per pound. You might be surprised by the amount of cash you’ll get.
#8 – Make Money on Packing Peanuts
When you get packing peanuts in your orders, save them up in bags. Don’t throw them away. If you go to online retailers like Amazon, you’ll find that sellers are making around $15 per 22-gallon bag for these packing peanuts. Keep them out of the landfill and make some money on them.
#9 – Get Cash for Your Old Books
Books can go into your recycling bin or you can sell them. Sell used books through sites like Amazon or eBay. If you’d rather get rid of them in a wholesale lot, go to websites like Ziffit and scan the barcode. You’ll get a response on what Ziffit will buy along with the value. If you agree to the offer, package your books, bring them to FedEx, and wait to get your payment directly to your bank or PayPal account.
#10 – Sell Old Corks and Wine Bottles on Craft Sites
You drink plenty of wine and have a large collection of wine corks. Did you know that people will pay for them? Crafters can turn wine corks into anything from wall decorations to trivets. Sites like eBay and Amazon are good for selling your wine corks.
Do the same with used wine bottles. Crafters use wine bottles for a variety of projects. Wine bottles get turned into lamps, vases, and so much more. Again, eBay is a great place to sell them.
What about the recyclables you can’t sell or trade in for store credit? What do you do with them? Visit Recycle Nation and use the search engine that allows you to enter your location and item. You’ll get a list of locations where you can recycle everything from scrap wood to furniture.