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Recycling Waste For Money

Is it feasible to make money from recycling? The answer is yes! Aside from the fact that recycling is good for our planet and the environment, it can equally serve as a means of passive income for you. The items you consider as trash and throw away could actually be a treasure waiting to be found.

Saving our environment through recycling and making some cash in the process is a win-win situation. Read on to uncover how you can effectively make money recycling items. First, let's have a look at the things you can recycle for money.

Items You Can Recycle To Earn Extra Cash

Ink Cartridges

Instead of throwing away your empty ink cartridges, you can recycle them and make some money. Most stores that deal with office supplies could buy these empty cartridges to refill and resell them. You can either sell these spent ink cartridges in person to such stores or on online sites like Gumtree, Craigslist, or eBay.

Some stores offer store credits or points instead of cash for the empty ink cartridges you supply to them. This mode of payment is favourable if you frequently purchase office supplies from such stores.

Wine Corks

Just like empty ink cartridges, you can sell your wine corks on eBay or Gumtree and make extra cash on the side. Used wine corks are great art supplies, and folks into arts and crafts would gladly purchase them from you. So, if you love drinking wine, start saving your wine corks to sell later.

Before selling on any online website:

• Ensure to find out how much it would cost to list an item on such a website.

• In addition, learn how much it would cost to mail or send the item to your customers.

• Make sure you have all these details before fixing the price for your items on the website.

Cardboard Boxes

If you use Amazon Prime, chances are you've had items delivered to your doorstep in large cardboard boxes. You can sell these cardboard boxes on online websites to companies that specialise in packing and moving homes or even sell them back to Amazon. You can also sell them to your friends or people in your neighbourhood that are moving. Just ensure that the cardboard boxes are in good condition before selling them.

Scrap Metals

You might not know this, but you can make money from recycling scrap metals. Scrap metals are highly recyclable and can be recycled multiple times without becoming degraded. Recycling metal can fetch you loads of money; however, it depends on the kind of metal.

For instance, ferrous metals like iron or steel would bring less money when compared to non-ferrous metals made of bronze, aluminium, copper, or stainless steel. Therefore, you should recycle more non-ferrous metals if you intend on making lots of money from this.

An easy way to differentiate between ferrous and non-ferrous metal is by using a magnet. Ferrous metal would clasp to the magnet, while the non-ferrous metal would not. Here's a list of non-ferrous metals that you can recycle:

• Brass: Valves, pumps, old plumbing joints, and old sink tap heads.

• Aluminium: Cores of air conditioners, cylinders from engines, and rims from car wheels.

• Copper: Electrical cords.

• Stainless steel: Old kitchen crockery and cookware, and stainless food containers.

NOTE: Take the above items to any scrap recycling centre close to you.

Old Cars

The old car parked in your garage can fetch you extra cash if it's recycled. If your old car broke down and you no longer use it, you can sell it to a junkyard, where they will take it apart and collect the essential or needed parts. Also, some car companies are willing to buy your old model car (even if it broke down) from you. You might be required to provide details about the condition and proof of ownership of the vehicle by the company.

Car Batteries

You can recycle car batteries that are old or dead and no longer in use for cash. Some auto shops or auto spare parts stores buy old car batteries and recycle them further. So, instead of having them lying about in your space and collecting dust, sell them to make extra money for yourself.


Electronic gadgets like old televisions, gaming consoles, refrigerators, and old or broken air conditioning units can be recycled. Some tech companies buy old phones, smartwatches, tablets, and laptops from you instead of having them end up in landfills. Some online websites offer you gift cards or vouchers in exchange for your old and used tech gadgets. These gift cards are redeemable for purchasing new electronic devices from specified tech stores.

Empty Bottles and Cans

You can make money recycling empty plastic cans, bottles, and soda cans. Some stores pay you for returning empty plastic drink containers and bottles. Also, some cosmetic stores would give discounts on new products if you return empty containers of your used product. If you usually throw away these cans and containers once you are done with them, start storing them instead to sell later.

Junk Mails and Receipts

Those annoying junk mails you get from marketing and advertising establishments could be recycled into extra cash. Even your receipts from shopping stores are recyclable and could yield you some money. Marketing researchers utilise junk mail and receipts in their study of direct mail advertising and could offer you cash for them.

Used Cooking Oil

As shocking or messy as it might sound, you can make money recycling the remnant of the cooking oil you used in deep drying food. Industries like the biodiesel industry require your used cooking oil and even buy it in large quantities from the food industry and restaurants. Reach out to biodiesel industries and negotiate the terms of sale with them. They might leave a collection can for you, which they'll pick up when it is full.

Old Books

Books are another item you can earn money recycling. Recycle your textbooks from school, dictionaries, novels, and other books that you no longer use. It is not a bad idea to make money selling these books instead of having them sit on your shelf collecting dust. You can sell or trade them in on Amazon.

Non-Monetary Ways To Profit From Recycling

Aside from selling, there are other indirect ways to benefit or profit from recycling; they include:

Barter System / Trade-In

Some websites and companies allow you to trade in or swap your old item for a new one at a discounted price. The things intended for a swap or trade-in might be required to be in good working condition. For instance, Apple allows you to return your old model of iPhones, iPods, MacBooks, and watches and have you pay a specified amount of money for a new one.

This form of recycling cuts the cost of paying for new items at the total price and, simultaneously, allows you to get rid of the old ones. This pattern works well on items that have excellent resale value. In addition, you can trade in an item for another of the same value without paying an extra amount of money. You can trade in cars, golf carts, electronics, and other things of value for another.


Donating your old pieces of furniture, kitchen items, electronics, toys, and board games to charity or goodwill could earn you some tax deductions. For instance, if any of your donated items get sold at an auction, you can get great tax returns from the sales.

Although it is not direct cash, it can still go a long way to help you cut costs. Besides, these donated items might end up in thrift stores and would go a long way to help people that can only afford a little.

Joining Recycling Programs

These programs are like communities or clubs whose aim is to encourage their members to recycle items and contribute towards making the environment eco-friendly.

Partakers of these recycling programs earn points for completing tasks or making commitments. The points earned can be converted into coupons and are redeemable at specified stores and on allocated items.

Through Upcycling

This method of recycling involves the extension of the life span of an already utilised item by finding different ways to make use of it other than the original intended use.

For instance:

• Using empty containers as a storage unit for items, such as glass containers for candies, cookies, and cotton swabs.

• Converting cartons or cardboard boxes into a toy box or house for your pets.

• Having old t-shirts woven into a rug.

Tips For Recycling Your Items

Select the items to recycle carefully

Bear in mind that not every waste item can actually be recycled and, likewise, not every recyclable item would give you much money. Also, you must know that the items in good condition are worth more than the ones in a bad state. Make sure to select and recycle items that would be worth your while.

Store the selected items in good condition

Find a good place to store your items till you are ready to recycle them. Use a big tub or a strong garbage bag to collect your empty containers and cans till it is time to send them to a recycling centre. You might have to store their caps or covers in a separate container. It is better to store the plastic containers and bottles separately. Ensure you keep all the items you want to recycle in a corner in the garage/basement or any other safe place.

Prepare and package the items

When it's time to send the items to be recycled, ensure to prepare and package them well. By presenting the items properly, you will add value to them and perhaps yield more money for you.

• Wash and dry the containers and bottles before packaging them.

• Wipe the electronics clean before packaging and exchanging them for cash.

• Ensure to get rid of your details, contacts, photos, and files from the phones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches before recycling them for cash.

• Wash, dry, and arrange the clothes before donating them out.

• Some websites have packaging requirements for different items, and if you are unsure, research and find out the packaging criteria for your items.

Locate the collection point

After preparing and packaging the items, and if you intend to exchange them physically, locate a recycling centre close to you and take them there. Remember that you cannot trade all the recyclable items at a single centre. There are collection points or recycling centres allocated to different items.

For example, the Adelaide recycling depot located at 10 Ween Road, Pooraka, only deals with bottles and cans. The exchange is easy; all that is required is for a collection team member to examine your items, count them, and hand you the cash.

Turn Waste Recycling Into A Business

It has already been determined that you can make money from recycling waste. Still, before you go into the waste recycling business, you need to put a few things into consideration before you start. Firstly, research the safety regulations and waste management plan set aside for your city or municipality by the council.

Moreover, you can partner with waste management companies and your local waste collectors. However, you might require a licence or permit to operate a waste recycling business so, make enquiries on how to obtain one. Finally, having your business located in a strategic place with access to a lot of junk is key to keeping your business running.

Alternatively, you can reach out to a skip bin company in your locality if you need assistance managing a large quantity of recyclable waste. These waste specialists will assist you in identifying the trash that is recyclable and removing the waste when you are ready.