Can I Make Extra Money by Recycling?

You are looking to make a little extra spending money. You don’t necessarily want to take a second job, so you’re looking for some kind of gig you can do when you have time but set aside when you don’t. How about recycling? Is it possible to make extra money doing it? Yes and no.

It is technically possible to recycle all sorts of materials and make money doing so. The question is how much money as compared to the time and effort you put into it. Even if you want to recycle part time to make extra cash, you need to consider the amount of reward you get in exchange for the labor you perform.

1. Recycling Paper Products

Paper recycling represents one of the most successful types of recycling in history. It has been going on for a long, long time. Today, entire companies exist for one purpose only: to collect paper products from other companies and recycle them. They take everything from copy paper to cardboard boxes. Can you do something similar?

Although not as lucrative as it once was, you can collect paper products from your neighborhood. You might even collect some from local businesses. But here is the thing: you need to have access to a local company that accepts paper for recycling. Without that local buyer, you have nowhere to take the paper.

2. Recycling Glass Containers

The same rules that apply to paper recycling also apply to glass. Thirty years ago, it was fairly easy to find a local company willing to buy glass. That is no longer the case. Buyers are out there, but consolidation has reduced their numbers over the years. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, there probably isn’t one nearby.

3. Recycling Beverage Containers

If you are thinking that beverage cans and bottles are the way to go, you may be in luck. Let us talk specifically about bottles and cans subject to state deposit rules. If you pay a deposit on beverage containers in your state, that deposit can be recovered by taking empty containers to a participating collector.

In fairness, returning your own beverage bottles isn’t really making you extra money. You are just getting back what you already spent. But if you are returning cans and bottles discarded by other people, now you are on to something. You can make some extra money with that gig. How much? That depends on volume.

4. Recycling Plastic Materials

Some people are curious about recycling plastic materials. Is this viable for you? Only if you can find a company willing to take PET plastic. They are actually more common than you might think. PET is the most often recycled plastic in the world. It is not unusual to find local recyclers more than willing to take PET water bottles, food containers, etc.

Anything other than PET is probably a no-go for you. According to Seraphim Plastics, household plastic recycling is largely unprofitable. Industrial recycling is another matter. If you could get your hands on a bunch of plastic pallets, for example, they might be worth some money. Just don’t bother with household products. There isn’t any money in them.

Again, all of this depends on being able to find a buyer. Whether you attempt to recycle paper, glass, or even metals like aluminum and copper, not having a buyer makes all your efforts a waste of time. So before you even think about recycling to make some extra cash, do some investigating.

Look to see if there are recyclers in your local area willing to buy what you decide to collect.

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