Turning Trash Into Cash: How Much Money Do You Get For Recycling Cans?

Turning Trash Into Cash: How Much Money Do You Get For Recycling Cans?

June 15, 2024

Maximise your Profit: A Guide to Earning Through Recycling

Tossing empty aluminium cans into the garbage is a common practice. However, what many fail to realise is that these wasted cans could be easily converted into money by means of recycling. The concept is simple: you collect cans, take them to a recycling facility, and get paid for it. It’s a small step with a twofold advantage — you help the environment, and you earn a little extra cash on the side.

Aluminium cans are particularly valued. As aluminium is infinitely recyclable and retains its properties indefinitely, recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy needed to make new ones from raw materials. Unsurprisingly, cans account for approximately $1 billion worth being recycled every year.

But how much can you actually make from this endeavor? The answer depends on several factors: your location, the weight of cans, and local laws. Nonetheless, the standard rates range between 25 cents to 35 cents per pound of aluminium cans.

The more cans you can collect, the more money you’ll make. To put things into perspective, an average aluminium can weighs about half an ounce. Which means, it would take roughly 32 cans to make a pound. This may seem like a large number, but consider how quickly cans accumulate at social gatherings, work spaces, or even in your own household, and you might reconsider.

note sorter

When you’ve completed your can collection, the recycling depot will use a ‘note sorter’, which segregates the items based on their material and grades them accordingly for weight measurement. While this phrase is typically associated with banknote processing machines, it is also a common term in recycling centers. In this case, it’s used to sort and examine the recyclables based on their weight and material type, and thereby calculate their worth.

Some states in the U.S., such as California, Michigan, and Oregon, have ‘Bottle Bill’ laws to promote recycling. Under these laws, consumers pay a small deposit when they purchase beverages in aluminium, glass, and plastic containers, which is then refunded when the empty containers are returned. Depending upon the state, the rates vary from 5 to 15 cents per can — much more profitable than the per pound rate. Therefore, residing in these states can substantially increase your earnings from recycling.

However, there’s also market volatility to factor in. Like other consumer commodities, the price of aluminium fluctuates based on supply and demand. When aluminium prices go up, so does the rate of aluminium cans for recycling.

Collecting and recycling cans might not make you a millionaire, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Thanks to your actions, fewer cans end up in landfills, less energy is used making new cans, and you make a modest addition to your bank account. So why not turn your trash into cash, one can at a time?