Best Aluminum Can Recycling Prices To Make Money [Ultimate Guide]

Aluminum can recycling kills two birds with one stone. It provides you with a means to save the environment in your own little way while earning some extra money fast. 

Yes, you can make money recycling aluminum cans. This article will teach you how to make money by recycling the product waste that often fills landfills. To provide you with a perspective, the approximately 40 billion cans that made it to the landfills annually costs about $800 million in aluminum.

To be fair, 70% of used aluminum cans do make it to recycling centers. So, it is one of the most recycled wastes. The cost of aluminum may be part of the attraction. Of course, some people do have environmentally friendly mindsets.

Start the aluminum can recycling habit by scrounging for empty cans in your own household. You can only start searching for more cans from your neighborhood if your neighbors do not mind it. Remember that since it can be a quick cash scheme, your neighbors may also want to recycle for themselves. In some states, the profit will depend on the aluminum recycling prices per pound on a particular day.

How To Tell If A Metal Is Aluminum?

Before you drop off your cans to the nearest recycling center, you must make sure that they are made of aluminum. An aluminum can closely resemble tin. So, you may not be able to quickly tell if your can is made of aluminum or not.

The two metals do have a noticeable difference: magnets can attract tin, but not aluminum.

If you compare silver and aluminum, you will notice that silver turns grey and almost black when rubbed with bleach. Aluminum metal will not change.

How to Identify Different Scrap Metals to Recycle

How Much Does An Aluminum Can Weigh?

When you are selling aluminum for recycling, you will get paid by the weight. According to a Recycle USA study, it showed that the average empty aluminum can weighs 14.9 grams.

How Many Aluminum Cans Make 1 Pound?

If you want to put together at least a pound’s worth, you need to find at least 31 empty aluminum cans. It means you need approximately 12,800 cans just to make it to $100 on the average cost per pound.

What Kind of Cans Are Eligible For Recycling?

If you need to know what kind of aluminum cans you can exchange for money, here are some possibilities:

  • Aluminum aerosol cans – This may not be the typical scrap metal you have in mind, but aerosol cans made of aluminum and recycled. Remove the nozzles before bringing a can to the nearest places to sell aluminum cans for cash.
  • Aluminum bottles – Aluminum bottles used to contain food or beverages. Make sure they are made of aluminum. Most bottles are made of glass, but this recyclable material comparison is the least of your worries.
  • Aluminum food containers – These aluminum food containers can be peeled back for you to enjoy your meal quickly. Common examples include Spam and even canned pet food.

You can now see that empty aluminum cans do not only include empty soda containers when you think of recycling aluminum. 

See our guide on how to dispose of a microwave.

What Is The Price Of Aluminum Cans Per Pound?

As of writing, scrap aluminum is worth $0.17 per pound, per iScrap.

List of States With Bottle Bills

First off, what is a bottle bill?

A bottle bill is a ruling that requires a minimum of 5 to 10 cents payment for each recycled can. This will significantly raise your potential earnings. At this point, however, only ten states have bottle bills.

These are the 10 states with bottle bills:

  • California – Containers include aluminum, plastic, bi-metal, and glass.
  • Connecticut – Containers include any sealed bottle, can, carton, or jar made of metal, glass, or plastic.
  • Hawaii – Any container up to 68 ounces made of glass, plastic, bi-metal, or aluminum. 
  • Iowa – Any sealed can, carton, jar, or bottle made of metal, glass, or plastic. 
  • Maine – Any sealed container with a volume of four liters or less made of metal, plastic, or glass. 
  • Massachusetts – Sealable can, jar, carton, or bottle made of metal, glass, plastic, or combination. 
  • Michigan – Container under one gallon made of glass, metal, paper, or plastic.
  • New York – Sealed can, jar, or bottle under one gallon made of metal, glass, steel, plastic, or aluminum. 
  • Oregon – Sealed can, jar, or bottle made of metal, plastic, or glass. 
  • Vermont – Can, jar, bottle, or carton made of metal, paper, plastic, glass, or a combination. 

If you live in one of the above states, you can earn a considerable amount of money just selling empty aluminum cans. For example, 1000 aluminum cans can help you make $100. If you live near the border of any of the above states, you can also take advantage of the bill.

Here’s the Seinfeld episode when Newman and Kramer drive to Michigan with aluminum cans for money.  New York only pays 5 cents, but you can sell empty aluminum cans for 10 cents in Michigan.  

So, whenever you ask yourself, “Where can I sell aluminum?” the best responses may just include one of the above ten states with bottle bills.

The bottle bill has been imposed to make sure that buyers return their bottles when they are empty. This setup ensures that people will not litter and that bottles and cans will get recycled. States want scrap aluminum to end up in the right place.

See our guide on recycling cardboard for money.

Which Aluminum Can Deposit States That Pay Cash?

The states that follow the bottle bill are also aluminum can deposit states. This means that buyers have to pay a deposit when buying products that are packaged in aluminum cans. They get their deposit back when they return the aluminum cans. Guam has been added to this list if you have to consider US territories, as well.

  • California – 5 cents for containers under 24 ounces and 10 cents 24 ounces and larger
  • Connecticut – 5 cents
  • Guam – 5 cents
  • Hawaii – 5 cents
  • Iowa – 5 cents
  • Maine – 15 cents for wine or liquor containers, or 5 cents for others
  • Massachusetts – 5 cents
  • Michigan – 10 cents
  • New York – 5 cents
  • Oregon – 10 cents or 2 cents for standard refillable
  • Vermont – 15 cents for liquor and 5 cents for all others

From the list of places that buy aluminum cans for money, Oregon has been the oldest promoter of the aluminum can deposit. It has been practicing this since 1971. Vermont followed suit in 1972. The latest additions were Hawaii in 2002 and Guam in 2010.

We can only hope other states will incentivize aluminum can deposits.

How to Get the Best Price For Aluminum Cans?

Bottle bill deposits usually pay anywhere from 5 cents to 15 cents. Liquor bottles are the ones that come with more significant deposits.  Maine and Vermont pay the highest at 15 cents for each liquor container.  It’s worth your time to use plastic and aluminum recycling centers if you live near one of a neighboring state that pays more. 

Alternatively, you should search for a scrap yard near me if you live in one of the other 40 states without bottle deposits.  

Why don’t all states have bottle deposits?

With the benefits presented by bottle bills, you would think that more people would jump the bandwagon. It is not that easy for some states. In states such as Texas, proponents of the law have been defeated by a large majority.

Another reason bottle deposits are not being implemented is pressure from top-tier companies, such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and the rest of the stakeholders (see the list below).

  • American Beverage Association
  • Anheuser Busch
  • Can Manufacturers Institute
  • Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
  • Food Marketing Institute
  • Grocery Manufacturers Association
  • International Bottled Water Association
  • National Beer Wholesalers Association
  • National Food Processors Association
  • National Grocers Association

Powerful opposition such as the companies above certainly slows down some states’ attempts to push a bottle bill through.

It is not the only reason behind the absence of a bottle bill, however. Logistics was also to blame.

Reasons for not continuing with such a bill:

  • The state may not have thought it significant enough to add the bill as deposits only address 3% of total solid waste and 7 to 25% of litter.
  • Deposits do not share the revenue to curbside programs.
  • The implementation of deposits may prove to be more expensive than other recycling methods.
  • Beverages have become a lot more expensive to buy. Yes, the deposit gets returned, but the initial purchase price has been raised.
  • It can be inconvenient to return to the seller to get the deposit return unless the consumer regularly purchases products from the same place.
  • Distributors will also have to spend more.

Now, you know that it is not that simple. Non-deposit states have also made their attempts to implement the practice. However, they have either been opposed or were not viewed as beneficial to the state.

How Many Aluminum Cans Does It Take To Make $100?

To make $100, you need at least 1000 aluminum cans. However, this is true if you are selling these cans in a bottle bill state. For a state that does not have the same laws, you may have to scrounge together more than 62 pounds of aluminum cans for the money.

Where To Take Scrap Aluminum Cans For Cash?

Each city should have aluminum and plastic recycling centers nearby. Sometimes, merely typing “places that buy aluminum cans near me” can provide you with a list of possible places. Going to also makes things a lot easier for you. This URL will direct you to the top nearest recycling centers to bring your scrap aluminum to for money.

Where Can I Sell Aluminum Cans Near Me?

You can bring your empty aluminum cans to the nearest scrap yard. If the place has a phone number, you may want to call in advance to know how much they will pay per pound. Compare the aluminum can recycling prices with other possible scrap yards and recycling centers. You can go back to the point above to know how to search for potential places to sell aluminum cans for money.

Aluminum Can Prices Near Me

As mentioned above, it would be more convenient to ask about each aluminum recycling prices to the buyers over the phone. Not everyone has the same price. So, just because you know that the average is $0.24 per pound does not mean you may get that price. Of course, if you live in a bill bottle state, you just may get high prices.

Use Yelp or Google to help you get hold of aluminum recycling prices and reviews of each place you plan to visit.

What is The Crushed Aluminum Can Price Per Pound?

Technically, aluminum can recycling prices are the same for both a crushed can and a non-crushed can.

When you search images of aluminum cans, chances are you will find pictures of crushed cans. Even in bins, you will find cans that have been squashed. So, you may start wondering whether you should crush your cans before sending them to the recycling center or scrap yard.

People seem to have the automatic reaction of saving as much space as possible, which is understandable. For recycling, however, it is only acceptable for plastic bottles.

Aluminum Association senior director Matt Meenan, however, advises not to crush aluminum cans. When flattened, a can may get sorted as something known to be flatter. Strangely enough, a crushed can may end up sorted as paper. It can also slide through nooks and crannies of the sorting equipment.

In the end, if you crush them, the machines may count fewer aluminum cans for the money owed to you.  Empty but not crushed is best for accurate counting and getting paid the right amount of money.

How to Make Money Recycling Aluminum Cans?

Empty aluminum cans can prove to be a regular extra income source, especially if your groceries usually have sodas, canned goods, and the like. If you are in a can deposit state, you can also earn a lot more than your usual $1.60 per pound rate for aluminum can recycling prices.

Here are the steps to take before you can redeem at least $100 at the scrap yard:

  • Find and Collect – The collecting and finding of aluminum cans will depend on what type of neighborhood you have. If your community is a little on the I-don’t-care-about-my-trash side, you can collect many cans. However, this will entail a lot of hard work. Request family members and neighbors to set their empty aluminum cans aside.
  • Crush – There is a strong urge to crush cans. Tell your family about your intention of earning money through aluminum cans. Advise them not to crush the cans, explaining what happens when crushed cans are brought to the recycling centers. However, with the help of multiple-stream recycling, crushed cans can be recycled with no issues.
  • Store – If you are not yet ready to go to the recycling center or scrap yard, put everything in one place. You can probably store them in your garage or basement. Bring the empty aluminum cans to the recycling center when you have enough. It’s convenient if you own a large vehicle, especially a pickup truck.

See our guide on recycling wood pallets for money.

Where To Find Aluminum Cans?

So, you are planning to collect aluminum cans for extra income.  It’s a great way to make money fast as a kid!  Where do you go to find it, exactly?


More likely, you have ideas about recycling aluminum cans because you have some at home. The home is the first place that you should go to collect aluminum cans. You know just how many cans of food, soda, and other beverages you consume monthly. Start a recycle bin for aluminum only in your house or garage. 


You cannot be too squeamish if you want to earn some extra money fast. So, you need to get out there and be ready to collect aluminum cans for money. Be prepared with several large bags.  Some cities and events have more litter than others. Just by going around town, you will easily find a bagful.

If you time it right, you may be able to collect a lot of aluminum cans for money in just one night at the following events:

  • Concerts
  • Festivals
  • Fairs

Concerts, festivals, and fairs ensure that a large crowd will be flocking to one place. You can be sure that they will be eating and drinking. Not everyone ends up throwing their cans into the bins, either. So, you can take advantage of someone else’s mess.

It’s a great way to make money as a college student while attending these concerts and festivals. 

Friends and family, neighbors

If you don’t think you can handle collecting strangers’ empty cans, you can seek the help of friends, family, and neighbors. Be honest about what you are trying to do. Tell them you want to learn how to make money recycling aluminum cans in your neighborhood. To incentivize them, give them a portion of the profits. 

Local Businesses

Local businesses will have more trash than residential ones. You may find a lot of empty aluminum cans in the commercial garbage cans.

Some businesses will have commercial garbage cans while others rent a roll-off dumpster. Like your neighbors, you’ll want to ask the building owner permission before you dumpster dive.  It’s an unconventional way to make money, and you don’t want to look like a thief in their back alley. 

You can offer to pay a small percentage for the cans to encourage the collection every day, every week, or most convenient times.


Offices may also be places to find empty aluminum cans. Scrap aluminum may not be the first thing you may think about when you see people in suits or dress shirts. However, you need to start thinking this way if you want to earn extra money. Many office works eat lunch at their desk, and some will buy sodas from the vending machine.  My first job gave employees unlimited soda in aluminum cans from the vending machine as a perk.


The same goes for parks. Though it is sad to say that some people even litter in picturesque gardens or parks, it’s an opportunity for you.  It’s a great way to make money fast, and maybe your chance to get hold of some more empty aluminum cans.


At your workplace, there will be no sneaking involved. You can ask your boss if you can collect aluminum cans or if it is possible to make it an office effort. You never know – this may become a practice that will go down in history for your company. You and your team will be proud to have started something.


Where to donate can tabs for charity?

23 can tabs are only worth a penny. However, it is a start. Aluminum pop tabs are often overlooked and even torn off while some people are still drinking their sodas and soups.

Can tabs can be donated for charity. Learn how to give them to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The money collected through recycling will be used to fund its charities. You can only donate pop tabs for charity instead of the whole empty aluminum can because they have limited storage space available.

What is an aluminum can recycling machine?

An aluminum can recycling machine makes life a lot easier. In an hour, it can recycle 3600 pre-flattened cans or 2400 non-flattened cans. Because of this speed, the machine will benefit more if you feed it pre-flattened cans. You can also get a machine with a flattening feature to seamlessly move from one part to the next. For something that can handle tough jobs, an aluminum can recycling machine is usually low maintenance and water-resistant.

How many times can aluminum cans be recycled?

While other recyclable materials have their limitations (e.g., plastics can be recycled an impressive 7 to 9 times), aluminum metals do not have any limits. You can recycle it over and over without it losing any fidelity. You can recycle aluminum forever, or endlessly as some people say.

Here’s a video on how aluminum can are recycled:

How to start melting aluminum cans for money?

Just as you can get ingots when you melt gold, you can get molten aluminum. Some people have aluminum cans molted and then reformulated into bars to earn more money recycling the metal. The metal costs a lot more when it is being sold as clean aluminum. You can get twice the usual amount that you will get if you had to sell the aluminum in can form.

However, if you must melt aluminum, you need the right tools and equipment.  Here are the steps for melting aluminum cans for money:

  • Crush – Crush the aluminum can so you can fit more in the vessel. 
  • Wear protective clothing – Wear safety goggles, thick gloves, long-sleeved shirt, and thick pants.
  • Furnace & Tongs –  You will need a kiln or furnace to put the cans in. The kiln should be set at a blazing 1220 F, which is the melting point of aluminum.  You need half a minute to ensure that the aluminum metal has melted completely. Use the tongs to recover the molten aluminum.
  • Molds – After you have melted the empty aluminum cans, you have to pour the molten metal into the molds you have prepared.

Here’s a video on how to melt aluminum cans at home.

When you are doing this, remind yourself that you are not only earning a few extra bucks, but you are helping save the environment. It takes less energy to melt aluminum cans back into pure aluminum form than producing utterly new aluminum.

What Are the Benefits of Recycling Scrap Metal?

The scrap recycling industry and the idea of recycling metals like copper (including copper piping and copper tubing) is a fast-growing sector. That’s because many types of recycled items contain valuable materials, and because governments and companies across the world are keen to make positive impacts on their carbon footprint and leave a better Earth for future generations. 

Another reason to recycle metal is that most resources on Earth are becoming scarce, and it can be expensive to mine new raw materials like metals. Scrap metals can be continuously recycled or upcycled, providing a steady flow of raw materials for making different types of products. 

From an environmental perspective, recycling can also prevent toxic chemicals from being released during mining and metal refinement processes, and it can also save vast amounts of energy.

Many recycling facilities have started to recycle scrap metal as an income idea to make extra cash, and many have made a fortune recycling common material like trash cans as well as recycling cans, common scrap metal household items, broken air conditioners, broken parts from the automotive industries, or even aluminum airplanes.

When you consider the many hundreds of thousands of pounds of soda cans and the tons of trash that is generated each year, it’s obvious that there’s huge economic potential in recycling. And there’s also an urgency to clean up the planet. 

Having a bottle deposit scheme can be a good way for recyclers to collect valuable pounds of cans for recycling. By providing an incentive for people to return their bottles, such as attaching prices for aluminum cans, tons of metal can be collected and turned into other materials by aluminum recyclers at a recycling plant or facility. 

An additional benefit when it comes to aluminum and recycling is that this lightweight and malleable metal is in high demand because it’s very versatile and so many products are made from it. It’s also very durable and has residential, commercial, and industrial applications. 

When you consider the vast array of products that are made from aluminum, its value as a recycling commodity becomes more clear and inspiring. For example, your garden might have an aluminum lawn chair, your kitchen probably has aluminum pie pans, and much of the metal on your car is made of aluminum. 

It’s also used in making aircraft, trains, and other automobiles. And many buildings are constructed with aluminum because it’s easy to weld and shape, and it’s resistant to corrosion. It’s also used as a conductive material for long-distance power lines and is used in many consumer goods. These include smartphones, laptops, TVs, TV aerials, some LED bulbs, and soda cans. 

It is necessary to educate people about what types of beverage containers can be accepted for recycling so that we can recycle as much as possible. Recycling can not only be profitable, but it helps save the environment.

See our guide on places that offer free appliance removal.

Aluminum Can Recycling Prices Summary

Recycling is a worthy cause that many people have not thought of engaging in actively. Most are content with just preparing their trash for the garbage truck to collect. However, you now realize that by being active in your collection and recycling, you can make an environmentally-friendly contribution.

Moreover, you now have a side hustle to make some extra money.   It won’t be easy finding aluminum cans for money, but it can be lucrative if you have a process and use some of our ideas from above.

See our guide on places to get free 55-gallon metal drums.