After centuries of unrelenting industrial activity, it’s finally become clear that recycling is an important priority. The push to become more environmentally friendly has become a multi-billion dollar industry. While the most prolific recyclers are typically major corporations, there’s a growing number of small-time entrepreneurs that are turning trash into gold in some very innovative ways. You, too, can cash in on this trend and even turn your recycling into a full-time business if you so desire.
The most obvious way to make money by recycling is through popular and ubiquitous redemption programs. Aluminum cans and plastic bottles are the easy way to go. You’ll earn at least 5 cents for each and in some cases up to a dime per unit. Gathering plastic and metal beverage containers in bulk can be very profitable if you spend your time wisely. Hitting up athletic fields, public parks and college campuses is the smart way to collect containers.
With the prices of scrap metals going through the roof these days, there’s plenty of money to be made by hauling heavy trash to metal dealers. Old water heaters, refrigerators and copper wiring are all around you if you know where to look. Put an advertisement on Craigslist offering to haul away old appliances. You can either deliver these bulky items to scrap dealers in one piece or part them out to make more money per machine.
Considering how quickly computers and consumer electronics become obsolete, there’s a nearly inexhaustible supply of the stuff hitting landfills every year. Items like cellphones and laptops can be sold to companies like Amazon or NextWorth, which will refurbish and resell them for a profit. For electronics that no longer work, local gadget repair shops are a good place to bring your old junk. They’ll often pay for broken machines which they can cannibalize to fix other devices.
Use Online Consumer Recycling Outfits
Making serious cash from recycling sometimes requires you to take some unorthodox approaches. If you’re not willing to put that much effort into a full-time business, you can use online recycling platforms to take the headache out of the process. TerraCycle and Recyclebank are two companies that let you ship your recycling to them to earn extra cash. Amazingly, TerraCycle will even pay for your shipping costs and send you boxes to package up your goods.
Go After Niche Markets
While recycling plastics and metals in bulk can be an effective strategy, a shrewder approach would be to target niche items that are in high demand and have very limited applications. Recycling corks from wine bottles is one such idea. You can make some decent scratch by collecting corks and selling them to beverage companies at a discount. Another great idea is selling food labels on Ebay. If you spend some time brainstorming, you can discover many other overlooked opportunities.
The First Step
Whether you’re only interesting in making a bit of extra spending cash or wish to go full-bore with your own SMB, there’s plenty of money in recycling. Use Google Alerts to keep an eye on commodity prices and recycling trends. The ideas outlined above are just the tip iceberg. There are hundreds of great recycling ideas out there if you think outside the box. If you do your homework and aren’t afraid of a bit of legwork, recycling can be very lucrative.