Recycle aluminium cans and make money!

Filed in Blog by on October 20, 2011 13 Comments
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can-recyclingI love the emails I get from My Zero Waste readers as they always ask such interesting questions that lead me on a trail of research.

Recently I was asked “I drink a lot of beer out of cans at home, (lots cheaper than going to the pub). If I saved all the cans would a local scrap merchant buy them off me? They are usually aluminium cans….some say metal on them but a magnet does not stick to them, so I assume they are aluminium as well.

I am concerned about conservation of the environment and try to help but may aswell make some cash out of it if I can!

I pointed our reader in the direction of Alupro and put the question out on twitter and Facebook. Sure enough we had 5 fantastic replies:

Scrap metal merchant

Shropshire Waste wrote “Sell them to a scrap metal merchant, you’ll need 0.5 tonne (ca. 30,000 cans) and can expect at least £100 for that. If you separate them first (so you have ONLY ALUMINIUM) & bale them & deliver them you’ll get more like £400 for ur 0.5t”

Novelis Recycling

Someone from My-Farm (sorry, don’t know your name!) shared a link for Novelis recycling

Steel and aluminium

Over on Facebook, David Holmes warned “If they are all aluminum they are worth about a penny each but you would need to crush them and take them to scrap dealer . But be careful some have steel ends and ali bodies. You need to sort aluminum from steel if you take mixed and they will run a magnet over them you will get the lower steel price.”

Scrap yard

Giles Bell shared “My mate just scrapped 4 tonne bags of crushed cans and got over £100 for them at our local scrap yard. Not all scrappies take them though so phone first”

Tesco recycling

Denise Aitken reminded me about Tesco. She wrote “the Tesco recycling centres give 0.5 clubcard points for each aluminium can which translates to 0.5p top spend in Tesco or up to 1.5p to use in deals. It takes forever to feed a bag of cans into the machine and pays nothing for steel cans.”

This reminds me of my Corona Lemonade days when I got 10p for taking the bottle back to the store!
What about you – do any of you collect aluminium cans and sell them on?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. CarSue says:

    At our recycling center’s public drop off, residents can donate their aluminum cans in a separate box, and when we have enough for a bale, we take it to a local scrap yard to sell. The money from the sale goes toward our non-profit group, which aims at litter prevention, cleanup, and community beautification.

    At a recycling conference recently, I met a gentleman who worked for a very large scrap metal firm here in the U.S. He told me that aluminum cans continue to be a highly valuable post-consumer commodity because the technology used to sort, seaparate, and recycle it has become so efficient that any inconsistencies (steel ends, paint, labels, etc.) are made moot.

    Some things to keep in mind for those who do want to sell their cans: markets for recyclable goods fluctuate just like any other supply-and-demand market. Just last year, residents in our area would be paid about $ .17 /lb. for aluminum cans at the scrapper (which reflected our regional average of $ .26/lb. that scrappers get selling the product to smelters). This year, a pound of cans sells for about $ .75. (That’s about 22 cans). Also, if there are a few scrappers in town, call around to compare prices. When phoning, ask if you may crush your cans or if they must be uncrushed (obviously it saves you space to crush them, but one scrapper here had so many fraudulent people placing bb pellets and rocks in cans to increase their weight that he no longer accepts crushed cans. He will only accept un-crushed cans, so that workers emptying bags/boxes of cans onto the scales can hear anything rattling inside. I’m told that many scrappers do this now).

  2. reporting from the US midwest…all summer the price of al.cans has been between $.50–$.70…not bad for exercising bending muscles and crushing biceps…dodging cars, holding breath after monster trucks and waving at wondering passerby…s…of course carrying the whole load down to the metal-man of choice adds to the excitement..balancing heavy plastic bags like the hunchback of Notre-Dame…then going up to the grocery store to spend the meager welcome proceeds to carry home to enjoy as a prize…not bad on the little happiness scale.

  3. that’s the per pound price to seller, 60 cents average for now–and need i mention the roadside surprises, such as a brand name multi tool, made in US of A, a pair of scissors, a punch, too far to know whom or where lost…or return…found a check, that had the phone# so returnable; and plants to transplant in garden too….sun, sweat and no tears, till next day awakening to sore feet…signed lightfoot lady in red jacket..

  4. I sell my own Coke can or any can in my path. (US) I never go out of my way or walk the highways. I have sold things from my basement with 30 yr collection of stuff. For the last few yearsm my projects were beyond my capabilities to finish. Exbf took lawn chairs I intended to restrap, #10 cans, pieced of tin cut for birdhouses, a bag of nails that I put in a container on my workbench when I bent a nail. He only drove 3 miles and brought home to me $15 one week and the same two weeks later. Now, when I get the electricity unhooked from the dinosaur gas furnace, I will have him take at least the sides off the recycle. It is as tall as I and about the size of a bed for two. He separates the kinds of metals with a magnet in order to get the highest price for each metal. Oh, he took a cast aluminum table there amongst the other metals and sold it, also. I think $60/month for things in my house and basement is worth the trouble of selling scrap for cash.

  5. Personally, No. But I have alot of beer drinking friends who collect them, and hand them over to our local beer can recycling plant; our friend Matt. He takes these to a local scrap merchant so he can drink his earnings and start all over again 😛

  6. Jane says:

    Many years ago our local children’s group collected cans for charity. We did need an awful lot to make any money but it was a fun community thing to do and a lot of people suddenly found out the difference between steel and aluminium cans and the difference in volume between squashed and unsquashed cans! Since most of the drinks that come in cans are not really the sort of thing to encourage children to drink perhaps this is something better left for the parents to collect and the children to learn about volume by helping to crush the cans with adult supervision.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @CarSue: I love what you have organised Sue; sounds fantastic and thanks for sharing all that fantastic information.

    @nadine sellers: 😀 thanks for sharing all your experiences with us; I’ve got sore feet just reading about it all!

    @Practical Parsimony: Sounds like you have a mini business going on over there! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    @Michelle Morgan Sounds like a plan to me and keeping stuff out of landfill too – what could be better?

    @Jane: Great educational and community experience Jane; very inspirational but agreed about the contents for children (although we do buy the odd can of ‘organic lemonade’ from our local health food shop)

  8. Luke says:

    I want to recycle my used cans and make some money do scrap merchant dealers take baked bean cans?

  9. Glenys says:

    Been to the Tesco Can Recycling Centre today in Gorton, Manchester (21.07.2014) and the machine had gone. Went into Customer Services and they informed us that the can company have gone bump and all Recycling Machines are being removed from all the Tesco stores.

    • Mrs Green says:

      Oh nooooo! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave updated information, Glenys. I really appreciate it and what a shame!

  10. john says:

    Just been reading this, so took the dog for a walk accross the field, with a bag and found 10 beer cans in about 2 minutes all aliminium, i teckon if i did it all day i could find over 500, weigh them in every 6 month, just checked metal prices at 2015 its £1800 a ton, nice littke bonus every 6 month lol.on top of my wages, tell my mates save em for me, a couple of pubs, ask the landlord, and tell all my customers on my round, just walked past one of them little blue bins the council collect outside an house it was overflowing with cans.

  11. Thys says:

    Hi thanks for the opportunity, i do melt the aluminium can’s and mold them in muffin pans , to get a higher kg per bag , wil any body have a problem to buy them like this , wil there be any price difference in my favoure.

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