How to Make Money Recycling Aluminum Cans (Up to $100 Per Week)

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One of the ways you might be able to make decent money on the side is through collecting and recycling aluminum cans.

This can be a viable way to make money, but you’ve got to know how to do it in a way that provides the most profit.

The money you’ll make from recycling cans depends on a number of factors, but the good news is that startup costs are low.

With some garbage bags and a good source for collecting the cans, you’re ready to go.

How Much Do Recyclers Pay for the Cans?

According to the iScrap App, a national expert site on recycling scrap metals, the current national average pay for aluminum recycling is about 25 cents a pound.

Aluminum recycling prices are based on what the current commodities spot price for aluminum is, and you’ll generally find recyclers paying about half of the current spot price.

So, if the current commodities spot price is 50 cents, recyclers will likely be paying around 25 cents per pound.

What some people don’t know, however, is that aluminum prices are negotiable. So if you go to a recycling plant and they offer you 15 cents a pound, you can try and negotiate up to 20 cents a pound or higher

Because of this, it’s important not to let a recycler low-ball you and pay you less than the current national average price.

It’s important also to remember that if you’re not getting paid on the spot for the aluminum cans you bring to the recycling center, that you should get your price and payment information in writing before you leave the center.

Since aluminum prices change daily, a day’s wait could result in a lower payout if you don’t have a written contract in hand for the cans that you deliver.

How Much Will You Get for Cans with Bottle Bills?

In some states, the average recycling prices for aluminum don’t apply because the state has enacted what’s called a “bottle bill.”  Bottle bills are state laws that put minimum payouts on recycled cans and bottles.

Currently, ten states in the U.S. have active bottle bills which require minimum payouts of between 5 cents and 10 cents per recycled aluminum can.

This means that if you live in one of the ten states with bottle bills, your income potential for recycling aluminum cans just went up astronomically. The current U.S. average price per pound of 25 cents translates to roughly one cent per can.

If you live in a state with a bottle bill, you can earn five to ten times the amount per can that you’d earn if you live in a state without a bottle bill.

For instance, if you could collect 1,000 cans per week, at 10 cents per can, you would make $100 per week.

States that currently have bottle bills

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Vermont

If you live in one of these states (or live near the border of one of these states), recycling aluminum cans might be more profitable for you.

Where to Collect Aluminum Cans

The first question you should ask yourself before starting recycling aluminum cans is “Where am I going to get the cans?” Well, you have several options.

Ask Family, Friends, and Neighbors

First, start with your own home, family members, and neighborhood houses. Ask them if they bring their cans in for recycling and if they don’t, would they mind if you took them off their hands. Some families drink a lot of carbonated beverages, which can result in a lot of cans for your collection.

Be careful, however, about rifling through your neighbors’ trash bins for aluminum cans without their permission.

Some states have laws that prohibit doing so. If you aren’t going to have your neighbors set the cans aside for you, make sure you have their permission before getting the cans out of their curbside recycling bins.

Your Place of Employment

You can also check at your place of employment as a potential source for gathering aluminum cans. Most companies have soda machines in their breakrooms. What does your employer do with the cans that people get from those machines?

If you can get approval to take the cans home you can acquire a lot of cans as well. Just make sure there are garbage bags in the bins for easy removal.

Contact Local Businesses

Another option for collecting cans is local businesses. You might have businesses in your area that will allow you to set an aluminum can recycling bin in their breakrooms and collect the cans on a weekly basis for recycling.

Since the environment is an important issue for many people, local businesses may be happy to let you help their soda cans to avoid the landfill.

Some people get cans by setting up recycling bins in local school lunchrooms. Since many schools don’t have recycling programs in place, people’s used cans just go to the local trash collector.

If you can divert these cans for your private recycling business you can add a bounty of cans to your collection.

Go to Events

Outdoor concerts and festivals might be another great place to find aluminum cans to recycle. People attending these events often leave cans right out in the open on the grass or on tables, free for eager recyclers who are willing to collect the cans and turn them in for cash.

Where Do I Bring the Aluminum Cans?

Listings for local aluminum recyclers in your area can be found in the yellow pages in your local phone book, or at websites such as recyclingcenters.org.

Remember that all recycling centers have the option of paying different prices for the cans that they receive, so check online reviews and do your research to find the recycling center in your area that pays the best price.

Summary

Recycling aluminum cans by itself probably won’t make you financially independent, but it can be a way to make money quickly if you’re in a bind, especially if you and/or the people around you drink a lot of canned soda and other drinks.

Taking advantage of the free money laying around via aluminum cans can be worth the effort when done right.

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    Comments

    1. Get this hog wash off of here!

      • I’m not sure what you mean, Bill.

      • Honey, this dude has just met the internet.

    2. Thank you so much. I’ve been collecting aluminum cans for 3 months now. I’ve not cashed in yet, but this will help me. Thank you so much, again.

    3. I collected cans for the fist time this month and not even trying I cashed in for $390 @ $.60 a pound. I do not live in a bottle bill state, so… Hey, it made a car and insurance payment for me this month.

      • Good for you! Except for the labor involved, it’s like getting free money!

      • How many pounds did you collect?

        • $390 = 39,000 cents / 60 cents = 650 lbs
          I’m not sure if I believe Xander…

          • Well, that IS a lot of cans, for sure!

            • That’s roughly 19,000 cans – over how many days?

    4. At Rolla, MO their cans per pound price is 53 cents!

      • That’s great! I wish you luck with that recycling project.

    5. Hello, I live in Las Vegas, NV. Do you know where I can take all my cans and bottles to turn into money?

      • Well, I googled, “Recycle for money in Las Vegas” and got a whole bunch of different companies. I looked at just two of them – Champion Recycling and also Desert Recycling. It appears either of these two places may take your items. Some of the places said to call to find out, but with a little research, you should be able to turn that trash to cash! 🙂

      • I also live in las vegas and most places only offer 10 to 15 cents a pound and when i called all but one said they dont take bottles i found one place thats 30 cents a pound for cans and at 30 to 35 cans per pound im trying to save enough cans to get a 1k return so im filling my garage full before I turn my cans in for the 1st time

    6. Where is the best place that will pay for my aluminum near port Orange?

      • I assume you are in Florida? If so, I looked some places up on the internet and found one that says they pay for aluminum. It is: tmrecycling.com. Of course, there may be others that pay more or less or may be closer to your location.

    7. I have found that cans can be found in cemeteries. Especially on Sunday and Monday mornings. Be sure to get permission from the cemetery’s office to collect cans (and plastic bottles).

      • Thanks for the tip! Other readers will appreciate it for their recycling and money making efforts!

      • Cemeteries?!? We’re looking for aluminum cans….not wooden caskets.

    8. As the Director of a Solid Waste & Recycling Center I can tell you that our pricing is set each week. Unfortunately there is no negotiations allowed. Recycling is a game of pennies not dollars and the price we set allows us to continue to offer our services to the public.

    9. I have done this for fun for the last decade or so. I’ve done it in several states, and ‘ve also spent the majority of my free time collecting. I never once got more than $100 for the month. Usually, it was between $40-50 per month. But I have also only spent 20-25 hours a week on this, and never much more. So, maybe if I actually made it my main source, and started doing it for 60 hours a week, I’d probably make a few hundred a month.

      • That’s absolutely completely inefficient. Twenty hours a week times 4 weeks is 80 hours. That means your making .63 cents an hour!! And much less if your driving around spending gas money and wear and tear on your vehicle. Cool if your an ex felon and unemployable. Much more profitable to get a part time job at minimum wage for twenty hours a week where you would make 493.00 per month after 15% taxes taken out.

    10. Hey, where would I recycle theses cans? I live in Soda Springs, Idaho.

      • If you read the post, it give you tips on how to find places that will take them. Check the yellow pages of phone books or search the internet for starters. Good luck!

    11. Hello I am from the Bahamas and I collect about 50 bags of cans each month. Do you receive cans from the Bahamas?

      • The best thing to do is check in the area where you live to see if you can find a place that takes them. Try looking on the internet or with companies that distribute canned foods or beverages.

    12. This is a great article! I actually work at a recycling company that handles aluminum and I would add a couple things:

      Aluminum cans are often called “UBC” which is short for Used Beverage Containers.

      Payout prices vary with the wholesale market price which is usually a monthly number that’s pegged at a specific price for the month. That’s what the bigger mills that actually melt down the aluminum pay for the wholesale product and that determines the price that smaller recycling centers can afford to pay the public for the material.

      No one in the industry cares much what the market spot price for that day is. I would add that a dishonest recycler might try to low ball your payout. If the spot price that day is especially low, they might use it as justification for cheaping out on you, so watch out for that if spot prices have recently taken a dive.

      Any reputable recycling company will have payout prices clearly posted and these are usually NOT negotiable. The front desk clerk usually has no authority to offer you a better price.

      • Thanks for that additional information!

    13. It’s actually 20,800 cans. She said it took her a month, so dividing it by 30 days equals around 694 cans a day. Hmmmm, that seems a stretch, but I knew this retired guy who lived across the street from a golf course I played about 2 times a week. I would always see this guy walking the course and pulling soda cans out of the trash bins on each tee box. I didn’t think anything about it until one day he asked me what golf balls I like to play. I told him Titleist and he said he could sell me 5 dozen used Titleist balls for about $20 – balls he found in the rough and woods on the course. I went to his house to buy the golf balls and on his back porch he had about 25 large trash bags of crushed soda and beer cans. I asked him how much he would get for all those cans. He said each trash bag was about 15 lbs, so about 300 lbs and he got .25 a can = $75. I told him that’s a lot of work for $75 and he told me does it Wednesday- Sunday, 5 days a week, and the cans he had were for 4 days of work. So, the math was 22 days/4 = 11 x $75 = $825!

    14. I live in Indiana and the prices here suck for aluminum cans and bottles. But upon looking for where to go in Michigan, I found an article from 2013 about it being illegal for Indiana residents to cash in cans and bottles. Is this true or was it just a false article?

      • I went to the Michigan dot Gov Department of Environmental Quality website and found information stating that as of March 2019, it is illegal to bring bottles and cans across state lines from other states to recycle them in Michigan. So yes, it appears to be true.

    15. I’ve been recycling cans and metal for years now and I use that money to go on vacation.

      • That’s a great idea, Tim! You can use that money in lots of ways because it’s like free money. Another great way you could use it is to invest at least part of it to make even more money! I wish you continued success in your recycling efforts!

    16. If you don’t live near a state that has the bill law, which is mainly northern states and NE, then you collect cans and are paid the price at that moment. A couple of months ago I sold my cans for 52 cents a pound. Now it’s at 38 cents a pound, so you just cannot make any money at all unless you have a large quantity and a way to move them.

      • That is true, Bea. Prices can fluctuate. If you have the room to store them, you can always collect and hold them until the price comes up. But of course, storage is not always possible for everyone either. You have a good point. Thanks for your comments.

    17. Hi. I have 289 cans in my garage and want to mail them to you. Can you give me your address so I can get 33 cents a pound. God Bless.
      Sally Bevins

      • I do not take cans from you to recycle them. If you read the post, it gives you tips for how to make money recycling on your own. Good luck!

      • Send them to me!

    18. My daughter wants to earn $50 recycling. She has 9 days to do it. How many cans does she need to get each day?

      • I can’t answer that question. It depends on what you do with the cans. If you take them to a recycling center, the price can fluctuate. You could find a recycling business that you want to work with and see how much they pay. Then you can figure out approximately how many cans are needed to hit that mark.

    19. Do the cans need to be rinsed out? I am on a fixed income now, and I was thinking that recycling cans will help me with some extra money.

      • You’d have to check with the recycling company that you are taking them to. Different places may have different rules.

    20. I have been doing this almost 6 years now. I get up at 4:00 am, grab 4 or 5 plastic grocery bags, and hit the streets! If you smash the cans, you can fit 2 to 3 pounds per bag. Different days means going to different streets. Experience pays off in knowing where the hot spots are and when to go. I won’t divulge my money intake, but it’s paid my rent many times and sure helped out in those slim weeks.

      • That’s great! If you have the time to do it, it can be a great way to make extra money! You’re also doing a service to your community by eliminating trash!

    21. I’ve been doing this since 2013. I live in Massachusetts. I usually do it the day before recycling day because people put their blue barrels out early. The highest I made was $40 in a day. I don’t make any less then $20 in a day. It is tough, since it’s a low income city. There’s lots of competition – there are as many as 10 collectors out there.

      • It sounds like you are already putting this plan into action. Good for you and good luck too!

    22. Hello, I live in Miramar, FL. I was wondering if there are places around my area where I can recycle bottles and cans to make extra money?

      • There are several ways you can find that out. You could try looking in the yellow pages either online or in a phone book. In addition, you can google it making sure you add your city and state to the search criteria. Finally, don’t forget to not only check with recycling centers, but also beverage companies that might be near to you. I wish you luck.

    23. I live in New York and took in 1,237 cans today to make $86.59. At our local redemption center, on Mondays, they pay $0.07 per can. The deposit in New York is $0.05 per can. So, if I take them in on Monday’s, I make an extra $20.00 on every 1,000 cans. I also live by an international race track. After an event, I picked up cans for 5-6 hours and made over $700.00. It is a great way to make extra money. You pay the deposit when you purchase a drink, so why not get your money back?

      • Yes, if you have the time it sounds like you can cash in on trash! 🙂

    24. Where can I take my pop cans for cash in Seattle, WA?

      • Use the links and ideas in this post. You should also check listings for local aluminum recyclers in your area in the yellow pages in your local phone book, or at websites. You can also check with beverage distributors in your area to see if they take them or have a source that would take them. Short of that, you can always Google to find one in your area.

    25. I’ve been taking my cans in now for a few years now and invest the money into dividend paying stocks so what would have been trash is paying me money every three months as dividends at around 3%. 🙂

      • That’s awesome to hear you’ve had so much success!

    26. Hello I am a teen in a medium sized town who his thinking about setting up aluminum can only bins in local businesses. I was wondering, (because I don’t have a car) what do you think the best way for me to collect the cans from all of the businesses? Walking would take too long. Biking would be too difficult because of the bulky cans. Have any ideas?

      • That sounds like a great idea to make some extra money! Do you maybe have a friend or family member who could drive you? Or possibly, a public transport system in your area?

      • Buy a bike trailer for cheap on the classifieds to help with collecting

    27. Do the recycling centers take soup cans as well?

      • Yes they do!

    28. Hi…I also collect cans …my neighbor saves them for me…picked up four bags already crushed yesterday!….These are large bags too!….I live in Raleigh nc…I think they are .40cent a pound here

    29. I live in Mississippi. my favorite type of exercise is bicycle riding. while cycling throughout the countryside I take along plastic wal-mart bags and pickup soda pop and beer cans along my different routes. I crush these cans with my feet before putting them into the bags. this allows more cans per bag. presently receive .45 cents per pound. don’t make a hell of allot of money but hey I,m getting in my exercise while cleaning up the roadside!

    30. I live in Oregon I’m taking in 10 thousand cans today, that is one thousand dollars. It took me 4 weeks at only 2 days each week to collect them. I’m going to buy a car today.

      • That is so awesome! You’re incredible dedicated to get that many cans. Congrats on your car purchase!

    31. Is it true that the price for plastic and cans dropped from 1.70 to .25 cents? In central California.

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