Is recycling aluminum cans really worth the time and effort? It may not be the best way to become a millionaire, but it’s certainly a great way to contribute to a greener lifestyle, and it can help you save each month.
Depending on consumption habits and location, there is an opportunity to earn a few extra bucks by recycling aluminum cans. It can lead to better long-term money habits as well as contribute to the offset of negative environmental consequences.
Aluminum Can Prices: What Can You Earn?
Technically, there is no limit to how much can be earned from recycling aluminum cans, as they are infinitely recyclable. However, it often works better as a side project that supports sustainability rather than as a method to earn a wheelbarrow full of cash.
Typically, recyclers in the U.S. can expect aluminum can prices to hover around $0.56, on average, per pound of cans. As the table below illustrates, though, the monetary reward will mostly depend on location.
Aluminum Can Prices By State
The value of aluminum can prices are subject to change and will vary from state to state and whether it’s a state with a bottle bill or deposit law. For example, California, Mississippi and Wyoming offer some of the best rates, whereas Delaware and New York offer some of the lowest monetary returns.
To isolate the states with the best rates, the below table compiles the average rate U.S. citizens can expect to earn per pound. This is based on recycling centers in the regions where the data is currently available.
|State||Price Per Pound of Aluminum||State||Price Per Pound of Aluminum|
|New Jersey||$0.43||New York||$0.28|
|North Carolina||$0.39||North Dakota||$0.30|
Where Can You Sell Aluminum Cans?
A question people may ask is, “Where are the places for aluminum can recycling near me?” Luckily, these locations are fairly common. The places consumers can recycle aluminum cans to earn money include:
- Local recycling centers
- Scrap metal companies
- Some grocery stores
It’s generally more efficient to collect large amounts of aluminum cans before bringing them for recycling in order to ensure the trip is worthwhile. A good strategy is to have a designated bin at home for aluminum can recycling or a storage area such as the garage where cans will be collected for eventual redemption.
This is often the most popular place for consumers to trade in aluminum cans for cash. There are hundreds of recycling centers located across the U.S., so there’s likely to be one a short trip away.
Scrap Metal Companies
Similar to recycling centers, scrap metal companies or scrap yards will almost always accept aluminum cans that are up to standard. Aluminum is one of the most recycled materials in the entire world, so it’s always worthwhile for these businesses to get their hands on more of it.
Many grocery stores will also accept and reward consumers for returning aluminum cans. This can be one of the most efficient ways to recycle and earn from a collected take of cans, as it can often coincide with a trip for groceries anyway.
Good To Know
The iScrap app locates the nearest scrap metal yard to a user’s location. It takes the hassle out of finding where the best-priced location is for trading in cans for cash. This option is best suited for large quantities of cans of a high standard. It is also likely the best option for consumers who don’t want to drain their gas tank and eat into any profits gained.
What Conditions Are There for Selling Aluminum Cans?
The above locations where consumers can sell aluminum cans often come with some conditions to the purchase. This may involve washing each can thoroughly as well as crushing them. This process ensures the cans are up to an acceptable standard for the party buying the metal. It also deters unwanted bacteria, insects and rodents.
Where To Find Aluminum Cans To Recycle
The best ways to find aluminum cans to recycle are often just by looking at what’s in front of you or even in a nearby recycling bin. Some of the best places to source cans to get those cents per pound include:
- Public parks
Hosting a summer BBQ or a big sporting event? A great way to make money back on the party groceries can be to clean and set aside all of the empty aluminum cans that resulted. Neighbors, family and friends in the surrounding areas may also be willing to hand over any cans that were ready to be thrown in the garbage.
Public parks will often have empty cans littered all over the place. Heading out with a trash bag to collect them will help keep local areas clean while adding to your stash.
Festivals and Events
Festivals and beverages go hand in hand, so the grounds can be a great area to source a lot of cans during an event, especially along the side of the road.
People love to take a break during the workday to grab a cold beverage from the vending machine. Collectors can check with their employer for permission to take the cans home, and then they can redeem them for cash at one of the acceptable locations.
Final Take To GO: Are Aluminum Cans Worth Anything?
Recycling aluminum cans is a brilliant way to reduce a consumer’s carbon footprint while also earning a little bit of money on the side. It likely isn’t all that worthwhile as a side hustle from home, but it can make extra money fast to add to your wallet each month.
Aluminum is a precious metal that is not only used for cans, but also for many mass-produced items globally. This includes but is not limited to, refrigerators, airplanes, foils, kegs, kitchen utensils and construction materials.
Aluminum Can FAQs
- How much is the aluminum in a can worth?
- Aluminum can prices vary by region and are based on weight. The average recycling value per pound of cans in the U.S. is currently $0.56.
- How many aluminum cans are in a pound?
- The exact number of cans per pound can't be quantified due to different measurements. Depending on the brand, estimates show there are usually 32 to 35 cans per pound.
- For smaller, more common 12-ounce containers, it will be more per pound. For larger containers, such as the 32-ounce size, there will be fewer per pound.
- How much do tin cans cost?
- Tin scrap in the U.S. generally goes for $110 per ton on today's open market. The value of a single tin can would calculate as a fraction of a cent as a result.
- What are the latest scrap metal prices?
- Scrap metal prices are determined by current market conditions and will increase and decrease based on demand and supply. Good resources to gauge current prices include scrapmetalbuyers.com and the iScrap app.
David Granahan contributed to the reporting for this article.
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