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Cash for Cans, A Chicago Perspective

February 18th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Did you know that it really does pay to recycle? The pop cans and old pipes laying around the house have value, and turning those items into cash is easy — if you know where to look.

The easiest items to cash in are those made from aluminum, such as beverage cans, foil and tins used for baking. Most buy-back centers in the area accept aluminum and pay an average of $0.50 per pound for it.

However, most places don’t list the prices they pay on their websites; you have to call for quotes. It pays to save up recyclables until you have a large amount to drop off. The more aluminum cans, for example, the more you’ll get for them.

A-1 Recycling, of Fox Lake, pays $0.55 per pound for aluminum cans, but for deposits of more than 25 pounds, they pay $0.57 per pound.

Many buy-back centers still don’t pay for plastic bottles and newspapers, but there are other household items people don’t typically set out in their recycling bins that can be redeemed for cash. Batteries and copper wire, for example, can be recycled for money. American Metals Company in Chicago pays $3 for car batteries while A-1 Recycling pays $2.25 for every pound of copper house wire.

For people who have batteries they wish to discard and just want to dispose of them properly but don’t care about making money from them, the city of Chicago has a battery collection program in which alkaline and rechargeable batteries — but not lead-acid car batteries — can be deposited at any Chicago Public Library or Walgreens Drug Store in the city.

When it comes to copper, different centers quote different prices, depending on the type of copper, be it wire or tubing, and whether it is soldered or not. Most places say they need to see the copper and won’t provide price quotes over the phone.

The easiest way to find drop-off centers in Chicago is to visit earth911.com, which requires people to input both their zip code and the type of recyclables they have in order to find the listing of buy-back centers. There is also a web page on the Chicago Recycling Coalition — http://www.chicagorecycling.org/sites.htm — which lists buy-back centers for all types of recyclables. The information isn’t obvious from the home page, but if you search for recyclables by type, you can find a link that lists the centers where the items can be taken. It also has an interactive map showing the locations of all of the city recycling centers.

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