Get Paid To Recycle

It’s reasonably well known that in some states in the US you get paid for recycling. Glass bottles and aluminum cans often have a return value on them, which is why a lot of homeless people collect them to earn some money. However Philadelphia based RecycleBank go even further.

They provide you with a barcoded recycling container that is collected each week. The truck weighs the container and the barcode is scanned, and you are paid based on the weight, up to $35 per month. Like the recycling I do, you can put everything (glass, plastic, paper, metal, vegetation etc) into one container (“single stream recycling”) to make it easier, however unlike me, you get paid to do it.


The site provides some great stats.

1 Ton of Recycled Paper Saves:
17 Trees (35′ Tall)
7,000 gallons of water
2 barrels of oil (enough fuel to run the average car for 1260 miles or from Dallas to Los Angeles)
4100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for 6 months)
3.2 cubic yards of landfill space (one family sized pick-up truck)
60 pounds of air pollution
4.2 MWh of energy (enough energy to power a computer for almost a year)

1 Ton of Recycled Aluminum Saves:
1,663 gallons of gasoline (amount of fuel needed to provide a typical home with electricity for a period of 10 years)
14,000 Kwh of energy
238 million BTUs of energy
10 cubic yards of landfill space

1 Ton of Recycled Glass Saves:
42 Kwh of energy
5 gallons of oil
714,000 BTUs of energy
7.5 pounds of air pollutants from being released
2 cubic yards of landfill space

1 Ton of Recycled Newsprint Saves:
601 Kwh of energy
71 gallons of oil
10.2 million BTUs of energy
60 pounds of air pollutants from being released
4.6 cubic yards of landfill space

1 Ton of Recycled Office Paper Saves:
4,100 Kwh of energy
380 gallons of oil
54 million BTUs of energy
60 pounds of air pollutants from being released
7,000 gallons of water
3.3 cubic yards of landfill space

1 Ton of Recycled Plastic Saves:
5,774 Kwh of energy
685 gallons of oil
98 million BTUs of energy
30 pounds of air pollutants from being released

1 Ton of Recycled Steel Saves:
642 Kwh of energy
76 gallons of oil
10.9 million BTUs of energy
4 cubic yards of landfill space

Rewards can be used at a whole host of stores such as Borders, Bed Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods, Starbucks and 250 other national and local stores. In tests, the amount recycled per household lept from 5lbs per week to 35lbs. Let’s hope they just weren’t eating more…..

[Via Springwise]

Update: A good tool for finding places to recycle in the US is from You can try searching by using their tool below.

Find a recycling center

What? e.g. cardboard, electronics, etc.

Where? e.g ZIP Code


33 thoughts on “Get Paid To Recycle

  1. Are there any of these type of programs in Columbus, OH? I’ve been searching for a few days but only come up w/aluminum can recycling for cash! I would like to be able to turn in all my recyclables for cash not just the cans!



  2. Hi Shannon,
    Sorry I couldn’t find any either. Whilst it would be nice to get paid for all the recycling you do, if you’re just going to throw it out anyway then you might as well recycle even if you don’t get paid for it!


  3. Here in England where i live, we get charged to recycle. What i mean by this is if you accidently put a tin/can in our plastic container, or forget to wash out a bottle, we get fined, also they only collect it every 2 weeks. A big emphisis is put on recycling here but then they do stupid things like this to put you off. The containers they provide to put our recycling into are 1’x1’x2′, we get 1 for plastic and 1 for metal and 1 for glass, an average household will fill these in 1 week, they say just go to the recycling banks at Tesco’s (your wallmart) which are overloaded as they only get collected once a week and are no bigger than a standard car, this then defeats the object as you need to drive a car, go figure.

    Think yourselfs lucky over there, and as one person said, even if you dont get paid, still do it šŸ™‚ .


  4. Thanks Dave. One of the problems I see is that recycling collections are not consistent. When I lived in London (until 2 months ago) we could put as much recycling out as we wanted, and as the bags were sealed and all identical then any mistakes couldn’t be traced back. We didn’t even have to separate it.


  5. My broadband provider,, offer cash for recycled mobile phones. OK, the scheme ain’t perfect in that it doesn’t take on paper or plastics but it’s a start.


  6. Hi Jeff,
    The only one I could find was through Yahoo Answers there’s an electronics recycler called “Westech Recyclers” (602) 256-7626 1008 W Madison St, Phoenix. Hope that helps.


  7. Hey,

    I have been thinking of trying to start a non-profit that woudl collect items and recycle them and put the money towards say…a sister city/town type thing say in mexico or another close country(mainly central or south america). The money would be used to help them develop buildings or to fund schooling or some economic thing. I just wondered if you knew anything about how I could start such a thing, like where I could recylce items in order to get the most dollar to donate. And I know that in highschool students earned money for how much paper they helped recycle when they were in the recylcing club. So, if you could help me out, I would love to do somethin like this. Thanks!



  8. Hi Rhonda, not as far as I know, and I live in San Diego. EDCO will collect it but not pay you for it. However white office paper is the ideal paper for recycling so there SHOULD be someone who is willing to pay for it.


  9. I would like to know if there are any places like this in the city of Chicago, IL or Austin, TX or Parker, CO? My family and I have been looking for a place like this an have had no luck at all. Please help!!


  10. Where in Statesville, North Carolina can you get paid to recycle? I was wondering because I’m a teenager and I was looking for ways to gain some extra cash, plus it helps the enviroment!


  11. Hey everyone – I am planning this exact type of recycling program, to include commercial facilities as well as residential. It will start here in Chicago, where my company is based, and will branch out to most major cities within 2 years.

    If you have interest, please e-mail me at stevesilha [at] I will keep your contact info and let you know when I am up and running.


  12. Hi I live in the seattle, Washington area and I was wondering where I can find some of these recycling banks, help would be great!


  13. all theses websites say get paid to recycle but every page sends me to different pages not one tells me how to get cash for it or where to take the things like plastic and aluminum. cans someone please help, i live in pottstown, pa, thanks.


  14. i found this highly helpful as i went to do my english “go green” final. this gave my great statistics . and, hopefully , will help my reach the goal my teacher expects me to reach… thank yah very much for this informative blog/post thingy.


  15. hi joel im not trying to sound mean but why are you lieing to these people there is a recyclebank in seattle an a few other places in washington the reason i know is because my grandma goes to them an there are some in columbus ohio because my grandma goes to columbus a lot to visit friends and they go to one in columbus


    1. I wasn’t lying, that comment was made over two years ago when one didn’t exist – look at the date. Good to hear they’re expanding.


  16. Why don’t we get cash for recycling oil? such as motor oil? would that save enough energy to run the space shuttle and take two cars off the road for approx. 1.3 hours and run a light bulb in a dog house for the winter months?


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