Where To Recycle Plastic Bottles for Cash Near Me

where to recycle plastic bottles for cash near me

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Table of Contents

Where can I sell plastic bottles for cash near me? How much is a plastic bottle worth?

You might ask yourself these questions if you have many plastic bottles lying around and are strapped for cash.

Fortunately, you can earn money while saving the environment simultaneously.

I consider myself environmentally conscious, so I don’t throw away the plastic bottles of the drinks I buy. Instead, I collect and recycle them for cash.

I wrote this article to share my experiences, teach you how to make money from plastic bottles, and answer, “Where to recycle plastic bottles for cash near me.”

Let’s begin.

Where To Recycle Plastic Bottles for Cash Near Me: 5 Places

  • Bottle redemption centers

  • Convenience stores

  • Gas stations

  • Grocery stores or supermarkets

  • Pepsi Dream Machine

Check out these places if you ask yourself, “Who buys plastic bottles near me?”

Bottle Redemption Centers

bottle redemption center

(Source: Finger Lakes Beverage Center)

If you live in a state with bottle bills, you can return beverage containers to plastic recycling centers for money.

You can find the nearest redemption center by simply using Google or (other search engines of your choice) and entering any of these phrases:

  • Bottle deposit near me

  • Bottle redemption near me

  • Places to sell plastic bottles near me

  • Get paid to recycle plastic near me

  • Where to recycle plastic bottles for money

  • Where to sell plastic bottles for cash

You’ll get a list of nearby plastic bottle recycling centers where you can return bottles, cans, and other containers for cash.

Pros

  • These centers provide cash incentives for returning recyclable plastic products.

  • You can find these easily if you live in a state with bottle deposit laws.

Cons

  • You may not find these recycling centers if you live in a state without bottle deposit laws.

  • Many centers limit the number of beverage containers you may return per day.

  • Some state and county recycling centers cater exclusively to their residents.

  • The requirements vary by center, so read them before visiting.

Convenience Stores

Convenience store plastic bottle recycling

(Source: ConvenienceStore.co.UK)

Is there a plastic bottle recycling machine near me? Your favorite local store might have one.

Many convenience stores are part of the recycling program, so they accept empty plastic bottles from customers.

These neighborhood stores offer incentives, including cash or discount vouchers.

Pros

  • The store accepts crushed containers as long as the deposit information listing and refund amount are visible.

  • Stores may reward you with vouchers or cash.

Cons

  • Not every convenience store accepts empty bottles.

  • Stores may not take containers that they do not stock.

  • They may not accept bottles containing foreign objects like cigarette butts.

Gas Stations

recycling bins at a gas station

(Source: Clean River)

Your local gas stations may also allow you to recycle bottles for money. However, they may not accept containers of brands they don’t carry.

Pros

  • Gas stations may reward you with cash or vouchers.

  • If you visit them frequently, it’s convenient to return bottles to gas stations.

Cons

  • Not all gas stations accept empty bottles and other recyclable containers.

  • They may not accept containers they don’t stock.

  • They may not accept bottles containing foreign objects like cigarette buts.

Grocery Stores or Supermarkets

Supermarket plastic bottle recycling machine

(Source: Vice)

Many grocery stores and supermarkets have recycling machines, which you can usually find at the back of the store or in the parking lot. Ask the staff if they offer this service.

You must load your recyclables into the machine to get a slip of paper, which you can redeem for cash or vouchers at the counter.

Since not all grocery stores and supermarkets follow the bottle bill, ask the store manager if they have a recycling machine before taking the empty containers with you on your shopping trip.

Pros

  • Returning empty bottles to your local grocery store is convenient if you shop frequently.

  • It’s easy to find stores with recycling machines if you live in a state with a bottle bill.

Cons

  • Not all stores in states with a bottle bill have recycling machines.

  • Supermarkets may decline the bottles they don’t stock.

Pepsi Dream Machine

A woman putting a plastic bottle inside a Pepsi Dream Machine

(Source: Oral Roberts University)

PepsiCo, one of the biggest beverage companies in the world, introduced Pepsi Dream machines on Earth Day 2010 as part of its initiative to save the environment.

A Pepsi Dream Machine works like a vending machine, but you put the bottles in instead of taking them out. It works as a bin where you can place your used empty bottles for reward points and redeem them at Greenopolis.

Pros

  • They offer convenience because you can often find them in high foot traffic areas.

  • The machines reward points for travel and movie tickets and Pepsi products.

Cons

  • You won’t get cash incentives; the machines only discharge coupons and discounts.

  • You won’t find these machines in all US states.

What States Pay You To Recycle Plastic Bottles?

This is the list of states that pay people to put empty bottles in recycling bins.

California

The state has around 2,000 bottle redemption centers that accept beverage containers made from plastic, bi-metal, and glass. 

California pays five cents for each container less than 24 oz. and 10 cents for anything 24 oz. or bigger. 

Connecticut

The state pays five cents for each recyclable item, such as bottles, cartons, and jars made from plastic, metal, or glass. However, you can’t return HDPE containers.

Hawaii

You can get five cents for any recyclable container up to 68 oz. If it’s made from plastic, bi-metal, aluminum, or glass. 

Iowa

You can get five cents when you return any recyclable bottle, can, jar, or carton made from plastic, metal, or glass. 

Maine

The state’s redemption centers accept any container that is four liters or less and is made from plastic, metal, or glass. You can earn 15 cents for wine and liquor bottles and five cents for all other containers. 

Massachusetts

The state’s redemption centers pay five cents for any bottle, can, carton, or jar made from plastic, metal, glass, or a combination. 

Michigan

You can earn ten cents when you return containers that are less than a gallon and are made of plastic, paper, metal, or glass.  

New York

The state pays five cents for any bottle, jar, or can that’s less than a gallon and is made from plastic, glass, steel, aluminum, or metal. 

Oregon

The state pays ten cents for any beverage container, such as bottles, cans, or jars, made of plastic, glass, or metal. 

Vermont

You can return any jar, carton, or can made from plastic, metal, glass, paper, or a combination. The state’s redemption centers pay 15 cents for liquor containers and five cents for all other containers. 

How Much Money Can I Earn?

Most states with bottle deposit laws pay five to ten cents per container. Assuming you have 50 plastic bottles, you can earn between $5 and $10. Although it’s not a ton of money, it’s still extra cash for what you would have just thrown away.

You must source bottles from other places besides your home to earn more cash. You can ask your friends and neighbors if you can collect their empty containers and sell them to a recycling center.

How To Make Money Recycling Plastic Bottles: 6 Steps

1. Check Your State’s Recycling Laws and Pay Rates.

Only ten states with container deposit laws require beverage manufacturers to sell containers with a refundable deposit. 

You pay for this container deposit, which you can redeem by returning the empty bottles, cans, or jars to a recycling or redemption center. 

If you don’t return the bottles, you lose the deposit fee. You can also return containers from other customers who choose not to redeem these themselves. 

Some recycling centers only accept containers with stamps indicating that they come from certain distributors or manufacturers. 

You should only redeem empty bottles and aluminum cans in your state’s recycling center.  

2. Find the Nearest Recycling Centers.

You can search online to find the nearest recycling center. Simply type in your city or ZIP code + recycling center (ex., 90808 recycling center).

Alternatively, you can ask your local grocery store, supermarket, or gas station if they accept empty bottles for cash. 

3. Collect Plastic Bottles.

Collect bottles to send to the recycling facility or redemption center to make your trip worthwhile. You can keep bottles at home over time or visit places where you can find plastic bottles and other containers.

4. Separate Plastic Bottles into Different Plastic Types.

Once you collect a fair amount of plastic bottles, separate them by the different recyclable plastic types: 

  • PET, which you can find in most water bottles and plastic trays

  • HDPE, which you can find in many toys and shampoo bottles 

  • PP, which manufacturers typically use when making yogurt containers, medicine bottles, and food packaging

  • LDPE, which manufacturers often use to make squeeze bottles 

5. Clean the Plastic Bottles.

Most state recycling programs or centers ask people to clean the bottles before depositing them. These containers typically contain food or liquid remnants that attract insects and other pests. 

6. Deposit the Plastic Bottles and Get Your Cash.

You can deposit the clean, empty bottles at a recycling center or other places that accept them. Expect to earn five to ten cents for each container you return.

How Does Recycling Plastic Bottles for Cash Work?

Some states without bottle deposit bills have recycling programs like a curbside recycling bin. However, most don’t give monetary incentives for returning recyclable containers, such as soda water bottles, yogurt jars, and more.

What Type of Plastic Bottles Can I Recycle?

These are the most common types of plastic containers you can return for cash. But before you bring them to your local recycling center, make sure you remove the remnants: 

  • Liquid dishwashing bottles

  • Lotion bottles

  • Detergent containers 

  • Mouthwash bottles

  • Aluminum cans

  • Bleach containers 

  • Car seats (without the fabric cover)

  • Plastic hangers

  • Plastic laundry baskets 

  • Plastic swimming pool 

  • Milk jugs

  • Soda bottles 

  • Water bottles

  • Shampoo bottles

  • Polystyrene products, such as plates, egg cartons, and cups

  • Margarine and yogurt tubs

  • Food packaging

How Much Money Can I Make Recycling Plastic Bottles?

The type of plastic, the size of bottles, and your state’s pay rate will determine how much you can earn recycling empty containers. However, you can expect to earn $5 – $10 for every 50 plastic bottles you bring to a recycling center.

How Do Recycling Facilities Recycle Plastic Bottles?

Once you deposit your empty plastic bottles, they go through various processes before companies can use them again.

Here’s how the recycling process goes.

1- Sorting

plastic bottle sorting

(Source: Nicety Machine)

Although recycling centers use automation to sort plastics, they still need human sorters to ensure the containers have no contaminants and non-recyclable parts. 

2- Shredding or melting 

Plastic bottle shredding

(Source: Lidem)

After sorting, a machine shreds the plastics into flakes or melts them to form small pellets.

3- Turn into Pellets 

When plastics are in pellet form, it’s easy to turn them into new products or containers. 

4- New Products or Containers

Companies usually turn recycled plastics into these products:  

  • Beverage bottles 

  • Food trays 

  • Carrier bags and refuse sacks

  • Wheeled bins

  • Food caddies 

  • Polyester fabric for clothing 

  • Car bumper 

  • Composters and wormeries

  • Watering cans, seed trays, and flower pots

  • Reusable pallets and creates

  • Damp proof membranes 

What Are the Benefits of Recycling Plastic Bottles?

Did you know that US consumers throw around 2.5 million plastic bottles annually? Imagine that these containers will take up to 500 years to disintegrate completely.

These are the benefits of recycling plastic bottles and other similar containers: 

  • Reduces trash in landfills 

  • Prevents plastic waste from leaching into the groundwater and affecting the surrounding ecosystem

  • Reduces the demand for fossil fuels and other natural resources

  • Reduces pollution 

  • Allows people to earn some extra cash

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Recycling Plastic Bottles Worth It?

Yes. Although the pay rate for each plastic bottle is small, joining any initiatives that protect the environment is always worth the effort.

What Are the Most Profitable Things to Recycle?

Here are the top five most profitable things to recycle: 

  • Cardboard

  • Aluminum cans 

  • Plastic and glass bottles 

  • Ink cartridges 

  • Scrap metal 

How Many Plastic Bottles Do You Need To Make $100?

If you earn five to ten cents per plastic bottle, you need around 1000 to make $100. Collecting this amount is time-consuming, although doable if you work with your community or business establishments.

How Do I Prepare Plastic Bottles for Recycling?

How you prepare plastic bottles for recycling depends on the recycling centers; some prefer the lids off, while others recommend taking them off (together with their labels). So, make sure you read their guidelines. 

Nowadays, many recycling centers prefer bottles and jars with caps and lids to prevent them from jamming their machinery during the collection and sorting. 

Follow this quick guide to prepare your empty bottles for recycling:

  1. Remove any remaining liquid or food. 

  2. Rinse the container to remove any remnants and odor. 

  3. Crush the bottles. 

  4. Collect a fair amount of containers before you bring them to a redemption or recycling center.

  5. Don’t put them in plastic bags when you drop them in recycling bins. Note that bags can jam the sorting machinery.

The instruction above also applies if you want to recycle aluminum cans.

The Bottom Line

Returning plastic and glass bottles and other containers is a great way to save the environment while earning some extra cash at the same time. 

However, don’t expect to get rich with this venture unless you work with local businesses or have a huge on-site customer base that allows you to collect large amounts of plastic containers. 

Consider selling used appliances you no longer need or exchanging your loose coins for cash using a Coinstar machine to make more money.

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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