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How to Make Money from Recycling

The UK produces 26 million tonnes of waste. Of these, 12 million get recycled, while 14 million ends up in landfill sites. In 2019, 45.5% of households in the UK recycled waste. By 2020, more than 50% of households are recycling their waste.

What this means is that half of the UK population is not keen to save the planet. While recycling rates in the UK are increasing, so is the population. Each day, rubbish accumulates in our households – from organic waste to plastic, glass, cardboard and all kinds of packaging. What many people do not realise is that they are sitting on a gold mine.

In this article, we will look at how to make money from recycling.

Old Electronics

The UK is responsible for around 1.5 million tonnes of electronic waste. Of these, only 17% gets recycled. Technology changes very fast. Since each generation of technology is better than the last, we end up buying more stuff. Today, it’s common to find an individual with two smartphones, two tablets, three smart TVs, four or five desktops that are more than 10 years old.

That is money in your pocket. If you recycle an old desktop, you get up to £60, and if you recycle an old mobile phone, it will net you about £250. For example, a working iPhone 7 32 GB can net you £200 to £250. There are several online marketplaces where you can sell your old electronics in the UK.

Before you sell your old electronics online, shop for the best selling price. Offers vary between online marketplaces. Research to find out how much your old electronics are worth.

Old Clothes

Just like your old electronics, you can make money when you recycle your old clothes and textiles. H&M is running a scheme where if you drop off your unwanted textiles, they reward you with a voucher. At present, you’ll get £5 off when you spend £25 to £30. The clothes can be in any condition and brand.

At M&S, you can get £5 off when you spend £35. All you need to do is donate your old clothes and soft furnishing to Oxfam. This offer includes old M&S bras, socks, underwear, soiled or damaged items. Remember, you must use the voucher within the same month.

Besides the high street shops, you can sell your old clothes online. They don’t have to be never worn or designer clothes. Regular clothes will do as long as they are not falling apart. Someone out there is happy to pay for pre-loved clothes. Here is where you can sell your old clothes:

Facebook Marketplace

  • ASOS Marketplace
  • eBay
  • Depop
  • Vinted
  • Rebelle
  • Etsy
  • Preloved

It’s free to list your items.


Got a pile of books that are gathering dust in your home? It’s time to declutter and make money. As a book lover, it’s very easy to drown in your exquisitely-jacketed hardbacks and paperbacks. If you find yourself going through your books once in months, it’s time to get rid of them.

Lucky for you, there are online marketplaces where you can sell your old books. One of the best online marketplaces for selling old books is WeBuyBooks. Download the WeBuyBooks mobile app and scan the ISBN of your book(s).

You’ll get an instant quote. Accept the offer and pick your payment method. Box the item(s), print the postage label and post the items with a designated courier. When WeBuyBooks receives the items, they’re checked, and you get paid the next day. Alternatively, you can visit the WeBuyBooks site, click “Sell My Items,” enter the ISBN and follow the rest of the steps.

Other sites where you can sell old books include:

  • Amazon UK
  • Zapper
  • Musicmagpie
  • The BookBuyer
  • Momox

Some of the sites above will pay for postage and have a designated courier pick your items.

Old Ink Cartridges

Worldwide, over 1.1 billion ink cartridges are used every year. In the UK, over 65 million printer cartridges are usually sold each year. Of these, only 15% get recycled. Manufacturers use up to three pints of oil to make a new toner cartridge. By recycling and reusing these cartridges, you can reduce this figure.

Printer cartridges can vary in value. Some start at 19p while others are worth more than £3. For example, the most valuable printer cartridge is the HP 62 Colour. It can net you up to £3.

The Recycling Factory is the largest recycling company in the UK. Each year, they collect more than 8 million inkjet cartridges for recycling. You can sell your old printer cartridges to The Recycling Factory. Head to their The Recycling Factory website. Check if your cartridge(s) is eligible for recycling. Register and order your free recycling box.

Once your recycling box is full, take it to your local post office. After they process your returned cartridges, you get paid.

There are other companies that will pay you for empty ink cartridges. They refill them with ink and resell at a profit. Companies that will pay you for your old cartridges include:

  • Inkviro
  • TakeBack
  • Printer Cartridge Recycling

Inkviro will pay you up to £3.60 for an inkjet cartridge, while Printer Cartridge Recycling will pay £3.

Construction Waste

The UK construction industry consumes more than 420 million tonnes of materials each year. If working on a DIY project at home or working on a construction site, waste such as cement, rubble, bricks and others are difficult to dispose of. This is due to the quantities and weight involved.

We can reuse many of the building materials such as tiles, metal, old bricks and others. You can simply invite family or friends carrying out DIY projects to pick up the undamaged building materials. Old bricks are sought after as you can use them to renovate your buildings, create an outdoor barbecue area or garden path.

There is some cash to be made with construction waste. Enviromate allows you to sell your leftover construction materials. Visit the marketplace. Sign up for a free account and list your unwanted construction materials. You can find other listings such as tiles, glass shower screen and waterproof matting floor. Depending on the construction waste, you can make up to £100 or more.

Cardboard Boxes

Every item you buy online arrives in a cardboard box, and it takes roughly 17 trees to produce a tonne of cardboard boxes. Since they are a daily part of life, you can ensure they don’t end up at the landfill.

Today, you can sell card boxes and make money. Many people are selling their used card boxes on eBay. Whether you’ve used moving boxes, Amazon boxes and others, you can list them on eBay and make money.

You can also list your used cardboard boxes on Sadler. Since 1952, they have been buying cardboard boxes. They purchase new and used cardboard boxes of all sizes. Sadler buys boxes printed with logos, product names or with packing marks.

To sell your boxes, head to the Sadler website. Send as much detail as possible. After they evaluate your stocks, they will submit their best offer. If the offer is acceptable to you, Sadler will use its fleet of vehicles to collect your boxes. Once they receive your stock, you get paid.

Scrap Metal and Tin Cans

Scrap metal has lots of value, from household items to old cars. One of the best places where you can sell scrap metal in the UK is Sims Metal. The company provides local, national and global recycling and collection of metals.

To sell your scrap metal:

  • Take a picture, then visit the Sims Metal website
  • Provide quantity or weight estimate.
  • Describe the scrap metal condition – mixed with other waste, mixed metal or all one material type.
  • Fill out the form, and make sure to attach a picture or list of your scrap metal.

Click ‘Get a Quote’ and Sim Metal will get in touch with you. You can also sell your scrap metal to your local authority or Singletons.

If you keep hold of your tin cans, you can recycle them for cash. For a kilo, you get up to 45p to 60p. A kilo is usually 65 to 70 cans. To hit the big bucks, you need to recycle more cans.

Final Thoughts

Selling your used items online is not the only option. Do a Car Boot sale, and tell your family and friends. They will market for you. Place a price tag on your used items and start selling. This method works great for clothes, electronics, and books.

To recycle unwanted items such as bottles, wine corks, tin cans, toilet paper rolls and even used cooking oil, find a recycling plant near you. The job of these collectors is to recycle unwanted items into useful things. At the end of it all, you save the planet and earn extra cash.