Don’t Waste Paper! Here’s How to Get Money for Paper Recycling
Updated on: by Olivia
Although we know that many paper products can be recycled, a lot of us still don’t do it.
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Most of the time, it goes right in the trash, either because recycling can b time-consuming or your area doesn’t have a convenient recycling program (you might be surprised by how many localities don’t!).
But, I wonder if the possibility of getting paid to recycle paper might entice more people to do it?
Recycling is a necessity for the environment, and the more people who participate in the act, the more we can improve our carbon footprint.
And it never hurts to get paid for helping out, right?
This guide is all about making money with paper recycling – and it may even help you turn recycling into a full-blown business.
How to Make Money from Paper Recycling: Sell Used Newspapers, Cardboard, and More!
The steps I’m going to outline below will help you get started recycling paper.
The thing is, you don’t need to spend time recycling paper and not get anything out of it.
You can actually make money doing this, and if you do it correctly, you could make it your job.
But to do it, you have to be dedicated.
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It takes a lot of paper to actually be able to make money on it (we’re talking a ton, literally), so you’ll need to find ways to gather up more paper than just your family uses regularly.
Let’s get into the details.
Why Recycle Paper?
Recycling paper is incredibly beneficial to both the environment and the economy.
For the environment, it keeps stuff out of landfills that don’t need to be there.
Recyclables often end up taking up space in our much-needed landfills when they could be getting turned into something new instead.
Recycling can also keep paper products from littering our streets, yards, and water supplies, which can harm the ecosystems that inhabit our neighborhoods.
When you turn paper products in to be recycled, you’re also allowing the recycling plants to do their jobs to turn used paper into new paper, which takes less energy than it does to make paper from trees.
For the economy, recycled paper bumps down the cost of products!
That means that you’ll pay less on an item that uses recycled paper compared to one that uses new paper products.
The companies that need paper for their products also save money producing those products by using recycled materials, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Finally, recycling paper helps you make money, and we’re going to get into how to do that now.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
To start your paper recycling business, there are some things you’ll need.
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Probably the most important is some kind of truck, like a pickup or commercial van, that you can use to gather paper (we’ll get into where to find paper to collect shortly).
You may be able to start small with your car or SUV, but it’s not going to take you far.
You’ll probably be picking up paper products a couple of times per week, so having a spacious vehicle can ensure that you have enough room to do that.
You’ll also need some goggles and gloves.
Remember that you’re essentially going to be handling some trash when you collect paper, so it’s a good idea to keep your hands and eyes protected from germs.
A durable pair of overalls and boots can also come in handy to protect your clothing.
Finally, some sorting bins that you can put in the back of your truck to help you separate paper products can save you some time, but they’re not necessities if you can’t afford them right away.
Where to Find a Recycling Center for Cash
The next step is finding recycling centers that are willing to pay cash for your paper products.
Not all of them will be, which is why I’m going to outline a few ways for you to find recycling centers in your area to help you find some options.
You’ll probably have to call them up to learn more about their services and what they pay for paper recyclables, if anything.
Earth911 is a helpful website and resource for all things recycling.
It’s an excellent place to find recycling centers near you that might accept paper products!
Use the search tool to search for centers near you.
After that, you’ll need to do a little research on your own by calling each facility and finding out all the details about what they accept and what they pay.
Earth911 has some of this information online, but it’s still a good idea to call each center to confirm the details and ask if they’re interested in becoming one of your consistent drop-off locations.
You can also do your own research online, which can be helpful if you’re trying to find a specific type of center, like one for magazine recycling.
In that case, plug a phrase like “magazine recycling near me” into the search bar and find results.
Ask Your Local Waste Disposal Company
Your local waste department can also help you locate a recycling center (they might even have one on their company lot).
Give them a call and ask where the nearest recycling center is.
Browse Recycling Center Search Websites
If the above options aren’t giving you enough results, you can also use other handy recycling center search websites that help you locate centers near you:
Where to Find Paper to Recycle
Now that you’ve found a recycling center or two that you can partner with to drop off your paper products and get paid, you’ll need to have some options for places to find paper.
Your household’s paper products simply aren’t going to be enough to create a sustainable business or even a somewhat steady income.
Here are some places to consider when deciding where to go on your regular paper product pickup routes:
Grocery stores can become your new best friends in your paper recycling business.
Not only will their offices have some office paper to recycle, but they may also have newspapers from the day before that weren’t sold, shredded papers, and cardboard boxes from restocking.
Call around to see if any are interested in having you become their new recycling pickup person.
Like grocery stores, liquor stores go through a lot of cardboard and paper when restocking products and helping customers.
They can be excellent spots on your pickup routes.
Next, try other retail stores, like electronics stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, dollar stores, etc.
They all use paper and boxes, and they’ll probably benefit from having someone pick up all their recyclable paper waste a couple of times per week.
Don’t forget the people in your neighborhood!
Check with the elderly and families to see if they might be interested in paying you to haul away their paper instead of paying more for the recycling company to do it.
You might even provide them bins to make it easier on them and you.
Ask your city if you can set out bins to collect paper in community gathering places, like a city common area or parks.
Schools go through tons of paper!
Collect cardboard, shredded paper, and scrap paper classrooms use each day instead of having them go in the trash.
Hospitals and Nursing Homes
Hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities can be lucrative spots to find lots of paper for recycling each week.
You can call local medical offices, too.
Convenience Stores and Places That Sell the Newspaper
Ask convenience stores and anything else in your town that sells the newspaper each day if they’d be willing to give you leftover newspapers from the day before that weren’t sold yet.
If they won’t give them to you, you can offer a lower amount for all of them.
Your Work Office
Ask your current workplace if you can become its new paper recycling pickup person!
You’re likely to land a client you already have a good rapport with.
Figure Out a Pickup Schedule
Once you’ve figured out where you can go to get regular pickups of paper products, you’ll want to come up with an efficient schedule for pickups.
If you have several places that agreed to let you pick up paper each week, you’ll probably want to make trips 2-3 weeks, especially if they’re places that go through a lot of paper and cardboard products.
It might be helpful finding a map of your town online and printing it off so that you can map each pickup location.
From there, decide the quickest, most efficient route to take to hit each spot on your pickup days.
You might also need to consider times and dates that make sense for the businesses depending on when they usually have paper and cardboard piling up, like after restocking times or days.
Once you plan your routes, make sure you call each place to let them know the days and approximate times you’ll be there each week so that they can have their paper piles ready for you.
Sorting paper is probably going to be your most time-consuming part of the process.
After picking up your paper, you’ll need to sort it out by type, like newspapers, cardboard boxed, corrugated cardboard, magazines, paper grocery bags, and inked paper.
It’s important to keep types of paper separated because the recycling center will require it when you go to turn your paper in.
Also, some recycling centers only accept specific types of paper (for example, some may not accept any inked paper), so you’ll want to make sure you find out what the recycling centers you’re partnering with accept.
You may end up having to drop certain types of paper off at one center and other types at another center.
It’s best to have a large space, like an empty shed or a garage, for sorting your paper efficiently.
Once you can afford to do so, buy some large sorting bins for your vehicle so that you can toss similar types of paper in your truck as you collect them, saving you time later.
How Much Can I Make?
There’s no direct way to answer this because pricing can vary so much depending on where you live and how often and how much you collect.
Your recycling centers will have set rates for how much they’re willing to pay for your paper.
Remember, though, that not all centers pay, so this is something you’re going to need to ask about when you call each place.
Usually, a recycling center will pay by the ton. That’s a lot of paper.
For a ton of paper, you can expect to make up to $75, but some centers may pay much lower, like $25 per ton.
However, pricing may also depend on the type of paper.
While newspaper and cardboard tend to get lower rates, high-quality office paper may command a higher rate.
The recycling center doesn’t have to be the only one paying you, though!
You can also collect fees from each place you pick up paper from, like your neighbors or grocery stores.
Call it a “convenience fee” or whatever you want, but you’re doing them the favor of picking up and sorting their paper for them, so you absolutely can charge a fee.
If you have recycling pickup in the area, make sure you research those prices and base yours off of them.
Go for lower prices to entice your clients to choose you.
You can charge more for bigger clients that require much more time and labor to collect all of their paper.
Charge your fee monthly to make it easier on your clients to pay.
Conclusion: Get Money for Paper Recycling
Fortunately, people are getting better about recycling paper, and most of them do it for free!
According to Paper Recycles, paper recycling has continued to increase since 2009 by at least 63% each year.
That’s awesome news.
But why not get paid for something that’s helpful for the environment and economy, too?
If there’s a will, there’s a way!
Do you think you’re going to start a paper recycling business in your area?
If so, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments or come back here and let me know how things are going once you’ve gotten the ball rolling.
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