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How to Sell Aluminum Cans & Get Paid to Recycle Drink Cans

Aluminum cans are great for recycling. The scrap aluminum from beverage cans can be reused in products by simply re-melting the metal. Not only can you make a little money recycling your beverage cans, but recycling is good for the environment since the recycling process is much less expensive and less energy intensive than creating new aluminum.

If you are laid off, unemployed, or simply on a tight budget and looking for creative ways to supplement your income, here are ten tips that will help you sell your aluminum cans and recycle your drink cans for cash. 

1. Collect the Aluminum Cans

Gather aluminum cans from work, home, friends or other locations. If you want to help keep your local street or city park clean, pick up cans there, too. Websites like Freecycle have community groups where you might find neighbors wanting to get rid of aluminum cans in your area.

2. Crush the Drink Cans

Crushing the aluminum cans will save space and make them easier to store and transport (unless you are using a parking lot facility just for cans like Golden Goat which wants unsmashed aluminum cans). If you don't have a trash compactor, try stepping on each can three times, once in the middle, and once on each end, to flatten them.

3. Store the Beverage Cans

Save the drink cans until you have a large enough load to make the trip cost effective. You can use trash bags or boxes, but plastic storage bins like the one below are easy to clean and often have helpful handles. The residue and the smells from beverage cans can attract pests. Have a good storage system set up.

4. Find a Recycling Plant Near You

Call around and surf the Internet to find out who pays for aluminum cans in your area. Check inserts in utility bills where this kind of info is sometimes provided. Your city websites, utility bill inserts, and websites like Earth911 can be helpful for finding local recycling information.

Not all recycling plants pay for aluminum. Make sure they are set up to deal with individuals with and not just industrial recycling. Check with your local plant to see what kinds of metal they accept. Some cities also have small aluminum can recycling bins called "goats" located in parking lots around town that pay for cans.

5. Plan Your Recycling Trip

Combine your trip to the recycling plant with another trip to the same part of town so the money you earn for your cans won't be wasted on gas.

6. Take Your Aluminum Cans to a Recycling Facility that Pays for Aluminum Cans

One regional facility I have used to recycle aluminum cans in Tennessee is PSC Metals. PSC Metals accepts other metal besides aluminum, but they do not accept tin cans. Call whichever facility you chose to find out what metals they accept. I have also used a parking lot recycling center called Golden Goat which is no longer in my area. Do your own research to find a facility near you.

7. Unload Your Soda Cans

At the recycling plant, empty your beverage cans into the large rolling bins or shopping carts usually provided at the plant, making sure the cans are all aluminum and that they are removed from any bags or boxes.

8 Weigh Your Aluminum Cans

Take your aluminum cans to the scales and have them weighed. Don't try to cheat the system by mixing in other materials. I am sure the scales operators have a very good idea how much a shopping cart or bin full of aluminum can weighs and will notice if your load is heavier than a normal load.

Be sure and pick up the receipt for your beverage cans. Most facilities issue a receipt, not cash, at the scales where your cans are weighed which you take to an ATM or the office to be paid.

9. Cash Out the Receipt for Your Aluminum Cans

Take the receipt you are given to the ATM or office located on site which will read the bar code and issue your cash payment. 17 pounds of crushed, loose aluminum cans just about fills up a shopping cart and will only net you a few dollars, but that's money you didn't have before!

10. Call the Recycling Plant for More Information

Call your local recycling plant before you drive out there with a car load of cans if you have any questions. If you know of other places to sell aluminum cans, tin cans, plastic, glass or other recycling materials, please leave a comment with the info below.

 

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Written by Sgolis, 2 years ago
Good article with detailed steps.

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