How to Make Money Recycling in California

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California residents are beneficiaries of one of the most robust recycling systems in the United States. Since the advent of the California Redemption Value (CRV) program and home pickup of recyclables, Californians can save landfill space and benefit the environment. You could just throw your recyclables in the big blue bin--if your area even offers them--but with a simple setup you can make a surprising amount of extra cash as a California resident through do-it-yourself recycling.

Things You'll Need

  • System for sorting and storing your bottles, cans and newspapers.
  • A nearby recycling center that offers California Redemption Value (CRV)
  • Agreements with local businesses and restaurants to pick up their recyling.
  • A vehicle with a lot of cargo space.
  • Know the California Redemption Value (CRV) for different types of recyclables, so as to best know what to focus on. As of 2007, the CRV for bottles and cans below 24oz. is 5 cents, while bottles and cans 24oz. and above will net you 10 cents. This may seem like small potatoes, but those pennies really add up! You will be surprised how quickly you will fill bags of bottles and cans just from your own household.

  • Find the closest recycling center that offers CRV payments, or the recycling center that operates on the days that are most convenient for you. Try looking at the California Department of Conservation beverage container recycling program website using the link provided. There is a list of many recycling centers in California that offer CRV payments, searchable by zip code.

  • Call the recycling center, whether it be at a grocery store or a standalone facility, to find out which days they operate. Especially if it is not a dedicated facility, it is likely there will not always be people out to take your cans and bottles. Find the one with hours most convenient to you.

  • Make sure to keep your cans and bottles in the large (24oz. or more) and small sizes separate, to make it easier to expedite the process at the recycling center.

  • Know that you are not likely to make any significant extra money recycling in California, unless you are willing to devote quite a bit of time and effort into what can be a very dirty job. You might try calling up local restaurants to ask if you can take care of their recycling for them on regular days. Many businesses will be happy to have someone do this for them, and the CRV money you can take in will be a nice little supplement. Every little bit helps!

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep your recyclables separated into glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper, to make it easier on you and the attendant at the recycling center
  • Don't "happen by" other households' recycling containers--the type that are put out on the curb--in order to mine their contents. Let the sanitation workers do their job, as your community members will not appreciate you sifting through their things.

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  • Photo Credit Jay Lopez for stock.xchng
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