How to Make $100/Week Recycling Aluminum Cans

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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 36 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 72 cents, recyclers will likely be paying around 36 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 25 cents a pound, you can try and negotiate up to 30 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 36 cents translates to roughly a little more than 1 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 are:

  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Have you ever recycled aluminum cans for money?


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35 COMMENTS

35 responses to “How to Make $100/Week Recycling Aluminum Cans”

  1. Bill says:

    Get this hog wash off of here!

  2. ANDY ROO says:

    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. Xander says:

    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.

  4. bobby says:

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

  5. Violet says:

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

  6. Spencer says:

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

  7. Larry Randolph Jackson says:

    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).

  8. LesleyAnn Stewart says:

    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. Jake says:

    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.

  10. Reed says:

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

    • Deacon says:

      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. Barbara bullard says:

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

    • Deacon says:

      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. John says:

    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.

  13. Seahawks Rule!!! says:

    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. Richard says:

    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?

    • Deacon says:

      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. Tim says:

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

    • Deacon says:

      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. Bea says:

    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.

    • Deacon says:

      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. sally bevins says:

    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

    • Deacon says:

      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!

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