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Thinking outside the box can sometimes be the best way to find a new way to make some money outside of a job.
That’s because not a lot of people have caught onto the idea yet, which leaves more opportunity for you to cash in!
Most people know that you can make money collecting cans, but most people also assume that you can’t make much from it.
In some cases, that’s true.
Each can make you just a few cents, so unless you have tons of cans, the money you make won’t amount to much.
But, if you know some tricks of the trade to really profit from this money-making opportunity, it can work well to earn some side income.
One man in New York made it his own business for over 30 years collecting bottles and cans in the wee hours of the morning.
He makes about $50 for 6 hours of work, which is less than minimum wage, but still not a bad income just from selling cans!
All About Recycling Aluminum Cans for Cash!
Let’s take a closer look at this business opportunity and learn how you might be able to earn even more by maximizing your collecting and selling opportunities.
What Do You Need to Start?
This business opportunity will only be as successful as you make it.
Fortunately, you won’t need a lot of things to start, but be aware that to make the most money possibly, you’ll need to be prepared to go out and look for cans.
You probably won’t make a lot just from the cans of soda you and your family drinks!
What you’ll need depends on how you want to go about your business.
Some people who are serious about collecting cans obtain permission from their city to place a recycling bin in high-traffic areas where several cans will accumulate.
For example, stadiums, parks, sports arenas, and conference areas may all be good places for a recycling bin for cans.
This will take some research on your end to find out the laws for your location and whether the venue will allow a bin.
If you go this route, make sure you label your bin for aluminum cans only so you don’t have to spend time sorting trash from cans.
Another option is to go through local trash and recycling bins like the man in New York who built his business this way.
But, if you’re going this route, you need to check your local laws to find out about rummaging for cans in trash bins around town.
In many areas, it may be prohibited to go through someone’s trash or recycling containers.
No matter what way you choose to collect cans, make sure you have heavy duty gloves to keep yourself protected when sorting.
And, you’ll need a way to store what you collect, so a pickup truck might be helpful.
Where Can You Find Aluminum Cans to Sell?
You’re probably wondering how to find enough aluminum cans that would make selling them worth your time.
Here are some of the best places to go if you want to find the most cans possible:
- Local parks: Bring some bags to the local park and search the grounds and trash receptacles for cans. You can even collect any from people you see rather than having them throw the cans away.
- Family and friends: If your family and friends don’t recycle, ask them to save their cans for you. Let them know you’ll pick them up weekly for free, and do the same with your neighbors!
- Sporting events: Keep an eye on tailgaters! From soda to beer, sporting events are ripe with aluminum cans that would just end up in the trash anyway.
- Your office: Ask your co-workers to save cans for you, and see if your boss will allow a special recycling bin for cans that you can take home weekly.
- Your home: Make a clearly marked bin for any special events or parties you host in your home so your guests know where to put their cans.
- Local businesses: Check with businesses in your area. Many may not already be partnered with a recycling company, and they may love the fact that you’ll pick up their cans for free.
How Much Money Do You Get for Recycling Aluminum Cans?
The money you make for recycling aluminum cans largely depends on where you live and how much time you invest in collecting them.
Scrap Sales USA currently estimates an average of about $0.35 per pound of aluminum that you recycle.
This is based on the current “spot price”, or market price, of aluminum per pound divided in half.
The current spot price is about $0.70 per pound.
However, the prices vary across the United States, so your state may be lower or higher.
And, it’s important to note that the price a recycling center gives you is negotiable.
So, feel free to try to squeeze a bit more out if you don’t think you were given a fair price.
How much you make depends on how much you collected and how much you’re willing to haggle.
Always get a quote for your turn-in in writing before you leave if you’re not paid that day.
Some recycling centers will pay weekly or monthly, but you’ll want a written record of the price you were told if so.
What About Bottle Bill Laws?
Some states have what’s known as a “Bottle Bill” which requires a certain amount to be paid per can for recycling.
The price usually ranges from $0.05 to $0.07 each!
The states that have a Bottle Bill include: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Vermont.
If you live in one of these states, you’re lucky.
Your cans are worth much more than in other states.
If you turn in an average of 500 cans each week in a state that pays $0.10 per can, that’s an easy $50 per week.
Of course, if you’re able to collect way more cans from placing recycling bins in busy areas, your profits could quickly go into the hundreds each week.
Is it Worth My Time?
Do you have plenty of recycling centers in your area willing to pay as close to the average price per pound as possible?
Are you able to find hundreds of cans per day or week without hours and hours of work?
Do you live in a state with a Bottle Bill?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then recycling cans for cash could be worth your time.
Unfortunately, if the answer is “no,” you may end up spending a lot of time on something that makes very little money.
If you live close to another state with a Bottle Bill, you may find that you can go to one of its recycling centers to turn in your cans. Just make sure that you’re not spending more on gas than the trip is worth!
Here are a few other things to keep in mind to make it worth the effort:
- Clean and crush your cans: You can hold more cans in a load if you crush them before loading them up. And, some recycling centers may pay you less if you bring them in without rinsing them off.
- Keep track of weight: The last thing you want is for the recycling center to give you a lowball offer, insisting you turned in a lower weight than you did. Do your best to record it before you walk in.
- Large quantities are better: Save up your cans for a week or two, if possible, and turn them in at once. It saves you unnecessary trips and you may even get a higher payment.
- Get people involved: This may be a better business opportunity if you can get more people involved in helping you search for cans, load them up, and deliver them.
How Can I Sell Aluminum Cans for Cash Near Me?
Now that you know how to find cans near you and make money from them, it’s time for the important part.
You need to know how to find centers that will buy the cans from you!
Here are a few of the best options:
Earth 911 is definitely one of the first websites you should try to find recycling centers near you.
All you do is put “aluminum cans” in the search bar, plug in your zip code, and the website will search the database for centers that take aluminum cans!
From there, you can make calls to each center to find out their prices for aluminum cans.
Earth 911 also tells you if a center allows people from outside the area to drop off their recyclables.
For example, when I search my area, I see a few centers that say “[My town] residents only” or “[My county] residents only.”
These types of centers won’t work if you’re trying to make use of the Bottle Bill.
iScrapApp is a lot like Earth 911, except it’s also a convenient app for your mobile device.
You can use the website, too, if you don’t want to download the app.
Plug in your location and iScrapApp will bring up a map of centers near you.
You can view the profile of each to find out more details, if available, and even send a message to the center to get a quote.
The app is available for iOS and Android and is convenient to use when you’re traveling.
The app can use your location to automatically find centers near you that might take aluminum cans.
It will even tell you the most recent prices for most of the centers so you won’t have to call each one!
Recycler Finder is a website for United States residents to find recycling centers in any state.
Plug in your zip code and your desired radius.
Choose Bottles & Cans from the “Materials” selector.
Recycle Finder does all the hard work for you!
Another recycling center finder website, this easy to use site finds centers and scrap yards near your zip code.
It’s always good to have several resources like these in your back pocket, because not all websites will list the same places.
Some catch centers that others don’t.
This website is also a good resource for recycling news and information.
Reverse Vending Machine
Some areas have what’s known as reverse vending machines.
They’re usually in areas with strict recycling laws to help people recycle.
The machines let you turn in your cans (and sometimes bottles) in exchange for a receipt with a cash value.
Most of the time, you’ll find the machines in a supermarket, where you can exchange your receipt for cash.
These machines usually only allow you to place one can at a time, so if you have several pounds of cans, it’s not the best solution.
Still, it’s something to consider if you aren’t having luck elsewhere.
Check out Earth911.com for more information.
Local Agencies & Departments
If you’re still not having luck finding anything near you, it could just be that your recycling centers aren’t listed in many of the searches.
You can still contact local government agencies to find out what’s available in your area.
For example, your local Chamber of Commerce (provided that you’re in the United States) can help direct you to local recycling centers that may help.
This agency is responsible for providing assistance about local businesses and resources in your area.
And, your local sanitation department can likely do the same.
Call the company that picks up your trash to see if it, or another company, will pay for your cans.
Conclusion: Recycling Aluminum Cans for Cash
Recycling aluminum cans for cash doesn’t earn most people a full-time income, but it’s a worthy venture for some extra cash.
You don’t need the cans once you’re done with them anyway, so you can reap 100% of the profits.
If you want to turn it into a business, you likely can do so if you live in an area with a Bottle Bill.
If not, it’ll be difficult to get it off the ground.
Otherwise, do what you can to collect as many cans as possible, save them up each week or month, and turn them in for some extra cash.
Do you collect cans for cash? Tell us about it in a comment below!
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