Ways to Make Money by Recycling

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Ways to Make Money by Recycling

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Most of us recycle paper and plastic, but there are many more things we simply can't recycle on our own. And if it still works (but just not for us), then it's a shame to toss it in the trash. Electronics in particular increasingly need replacing, but have numerous components that are toxic to landfills. Here is a comprehensive list of companies that will pay you to recycle a variety of items.  

Almost all recycling organizations profiled here cover shipping by either emailing you a label to print, or by sending a pre-paid box or envelope. Many also have charitable status and accept recyclables as donations, issuing tax-deductible receipts instead of cash payment.   

Cell Phones

Cell phone recycling led the way in the now burgeoning industry of getting paid for recyclables. Phones must usually be in working order and relatively undamaged, as they are refurbished for redistribution in various manners, including reselling them (locally or overseas), or donating them to those in need. Some require the charger and associated accessories, and some don't. If your phone isn't up to snuff they won't pay you for it, but you can still send it to them for responsible recycling.  

Here are a few different cell phone recyclers. They'll pay various rates for your phone, so it's wise to do some "comparison shopping": 

Pace Butler pays quickly (sending a check within four days of receipt and inspection of the phone). Cell for Cash and Simply Sellular pay within 45 days of receipt and phone inspection. Cell for Cash requires your phone to be unlocked.  

iBuyPhones and GreenPhone have tree-planting programs. iBuyPhones plants a tree if you donate your phone instead of requesting payment, and GreenPhone plants a tree for every phone that can't be refurbished and is instead recycled. iBuyPhones has a quicker payment turnaround, at 3-5 days, while GreenPhone takes 3 weeks to pay out.  

And if you live in the UK, Sell Your Mobile has a directory of sites that will pay you for your cell phone.   


Cell phones are only the tip of the iceberg. We're accumulating and replacing more and more electronic devices that otherwise end up in toxic landfills. Similar to the requirements of cell phone recyclers, the device needs to be in working order for you to get paid; otherwise they'll pay for shipping and recycle it responsibly.  

Gazelle accepts the widest variety of electronics including cell phones, video games, movies, laptops, mp3 players, digital cameras, PDAs, video game consoles, GPS devices, camcorders, computers, monitors, calculators, camera lenses, satellite radios, external hard drives, streaming media, projectors, home audio systems, and blu-ray players. They'll pay you within a week of receipt, and will either mail a check, credit your PayPal account, or send you a charitable donation receipt.  

Electronics For Cash and My Bone Yard recycle a smaller - but still comprehensive - number of items. My Bone Yard even accepts film cameras. 

By My Tronics includes the full range of payment options (check, Paypal credit, or charitable receipt) with a quick payment turnaround. They recycle a large number of items, with a particular focus on Apple goods - including standalone accessories.  

You Renew recycles the full complement of electronics, pays via Paypal or check, and also offsets all carbon emissions. If the item is recycled (instead of refurbished), they'll make a donation towards domestic renewable energy or plant a tree (your choice).  

Printer Cartridges

To get paid for printer cartridges you need bulk quantities, with many recyclers requiring at least 10-20 cartridges before they cover shipping. They usually don't pay for remanufactured cartridges.  

Cash 4 Cartridges USA recycles ink and laser cartridges, and sends a check in about five days.  

Toner Buyer is an international organization which accepts surplus new cartridges as well as empty ones. They pay in 1-3 weeks (depending if they're new or used).  

Furniture, Clothing, Sports Gear

If you want to make some money with your used furniture or clothing (assuming it's still in good condition), you can leave them at a local consignment shop for resale. You set the asking price, and when the item sells, the shop will take a commission and cut you a check for the rest.  

Cardboard Boxes

BoxCycle is an interesting site for anybody who either needs to acquire or get rid of cardboard boxes. Your excess boxes are listed on the site for local buyers to find, purchase, and pick-up. Box Cycle takes care of the advertising and payment process, and for this service takes a cut of the profits. Once your profits exceed $25, they'll pay you via check or PayPal.  

Miscellaneous Programs

Recycle Bank gives you reward points for doing a variety of "green" things. Most intriguing though is their home recycling program (available in certain areas), whereby you receive a special recycling bin (no sorting required), and your recyclables are picked up by their carriers. The heavier your recyclables, the more points you earn. Points are convertible into gift certificates to a number of retailers and restaurants.  

My Emissions Exchange is a worldwide program that pays you to reduce your carbon footprint. Sign up and input your utility usage (from your bill) over the last 12 months, then check out their advice on how to reduce your consumption. Each subsequent month you input the same data, and they'll send you money (via PayPal) for your reduced usage amounts! They can do this by selling credits for reduced usage on the voluntary carbon market (something businesses have been doing for ages). You win twice, because you also have a lower utility bill.  


Why not take your mission to recycle to new levels and make some extra cash? You can raise funds for charity, and even get your community involved. Advantage Cartridge and eCycle Group encourage bulk recycling programs for individuals, school groups, charities, or church groups. They'll send a starter kit with pre-paid shipping labels and posters for marketing your cause. Both organizations recycle many different electronics and cartridges, but also require large minimum shipments (like 10 cell phones, or 20 cartridges).  

So whether you want to recycle on an individual level and get paid for it, or take it to new levels and involve your community or workplace, always think twice about tossing that item in the trash - it could be worth something, to somebody.   

Related Posts

Earth Day Celebrations Teaching Kids the Three R's Recycle, Reduce, Reuse

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Going Green in your Small Business 


Nora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under Life Balance. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions while constantly balancing life and her location independent work on the road. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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  • Great lists! It's indeed very helpful.. Thanks a lot for sharing this valuable info that you've got in here. It's worth the read!

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