How to Recycle Water Bottles for Money

Tractor drives through huge pile of plastic bottles at San Francisco recycling center.
Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As Americans continue to take steps toward greener living for the future of the environment, many also look for ways to earn a little extra cash through recycling. When plastic water bottles are sent to a landfill, they don't break down. This means they will pile up and sit in landfills for hundreds of years, increasing the amount of waste. Recycling plants can turn plastic water bottles into pellets and fiber products that can be reused to make things like carpeting and plastic sheeting. Some companies will even pay you for your plastic bottles.


Step 1

Bags of empty plastic bottles at recycle center
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Contact your local recycling center and ask if it pays cash for recyclables. Many states, like New York and Michigan, require a deposit when you purchase plastics. You can get back the deposit when you return the bottles to a recycling center. For example, the California Bottles and Cans center (link in resources) gives you an estimate of how much you can earn from your plastic bottles, based on plastic type and approximate weight of the bottles. In Philadelphia, the Recycle Bank (link in resources) does curb pickup. Based on the weight of your recycled plastics, you can earn points toward shopping on its website.


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Step 2

A truck load of plastic drink bottles
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Contact a national company like (link in resources) for an estimate of the worth of your plastic bottles. Recycle in America makes pickups and pays cash for your recyclables in all 50 states, and it can give you an estimate of how much your plastic water bottles are worth right over the phone. Recycle in America estimates payment by your location and the amount of plastic you are offering for pickup.


Step 3

Find a Primo water bottle recycling machine. The Primo company has machines all across the United States that allow customers to deposit three- to five-gallon water bottles, even if they aren't Primo bottles. In return, you receive tickets redeemable for future Primo water bottle purchases.


Step 4

People view Pepsi Dream Machine at Dream Hotel in New York City.
Image Credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Search for a Pepsi Dream Machine that accepts bottles from recyclers. Pepsi Dream Machines offer cash rewards points that can be used to shop or donated to charities.


Step 5

Find an on-site recycling center near you. Many local grocery stores and businesses get involved with on-site recycling centers that pay you with discounts at their store when you deposit your plastic water bottles.



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