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How to Make More Money Scrapping Aluminum Cans

aluminum cans

Today Ray made a video on how to make more money scrap metal recycling and how to get the best payout when scrapping aluminum cans.

If you’ve ever tried to scrap aluminum cans, you may have been disappointed in the past by your experience. Ray shares a very simple, but very important tip in the video below for getting the most at the scrap yard when recycling scrap metal.

Here’s How to Make the Most Money With Aluminum Cans:

The video is great, but we’ve added a couple of more tips and made you a list, because I love making lists! If you want to make the most money with aluminum cans, these tips will definitely help you.

1. Separate Aluminum Cans From Other Metals (Including Other Aluminum!)

Make sure your cans are separated from all other metals – including other aluminum. Cans generally will need to be separated from everything else at most scrap yards.

2. Don’t Crush Cans Unless Necessary

You’ll notice we don’t crush our cans in this video – that tends to be a very big waste of time – the only reason you may want to do that is if you have tons of cans and a tiny truck and no storage for them – by not crushing them you simply save time – you are paid by weight, not volume.

3. Reuse Your Bags!  

One handy tip for saving money and to reduce your costs is to re-use the bags that you use for holding the cans after you cash out at the scrap yard. You will want to tie them carefully with maybe a twist tie or string so that they won’t tear and you can re-use them! Trash bags are expensive, and every penny counts in the scrapping business!

4. Be sure that the cans are clean and empty

The cans don’t need to be perfectly clean, but of course, make sure they aren’t filled with liquid or are covered in too much dirt – otherwise, this could cause them to be rejected, not to mention leave you with a very sticky, stinky mess! We usually rinse out cans prior to putting them in our collection bin.

Making sure your cans are clean might take you a little more time and effort but it’s definitely worth it so you can avoid wasted time and fuel costs if you take them down and the scrap yard won’t take them.

5. Make Sure You Have a Good Amount of Volume Before Cashing In

While aluminum scrap metal prices can vary by the day – you do need a good bit of cans to make a decent amount of money. We usually wait until we have about 10 or more contractor bags full of aluminum cans just so that it’s worth the trip to the scrap yard.

If you have the room in your truck and other high paying metals sorted, you can also often combine the trips to save on fuel and time costs. For example, we often take cans at the same time we take wire to the scrap yard.

How to Get More Aluminum Cans for Recycling

With aluminum, you really do need to have a pretty big volume to see a decent profit, but it’s relatively pretty easy to get them from all kinds of sources.

Ask Your Family + Friends

At our own house, we don’t really drink a lot of carbonated soda/pop products and no alcohol, which means we don’t have too many cans. A really fast and simple way to get aluminum cans without drinking massive amounts of canned items is to ask family and friends to save them and you will recycle the cans for them.

Also, keep your eyes out at any parties you might be going to – often a family reunion, graduation or birthday party can pay out great!

Network With Local Businesses

Another great opportunity for aluminum can collection is to try to get commercial recycling contracts where you pick up their cans and other metals for free from local businesses. Many local shops and restaurants are happy to recycle as long as you are able to give them a good system to do so and reliably collect the cans for them.

Partner With Your Favorite School, Charity, Church and Other Community Organizations

Many people use aluminum can drives as a fundraiser for different community projects and charities. It is very easy to network with these community organizations and set up a drive where a large portion of the proceeds are donated to a good cause. You will not see as huge of a profit here, but if you structure it that the costs include your labor you won’t lose out and you’ll help organizations that are important to you as well!

Volunteer to Clean Up Litter

You can also find cans by cleaning up different areas that are trashed. This is probably the most time-consuming of them all, but many times you can contact the property owners to gain permission to remove the cans anytime you see them.

Post Wanted Ads

Classified ads asking for aluminum cans can sometimes work as well. Sites like Craigslist are a good place to start, you can also post in your local community Facebook groups to let people know that you are collecting them.

Want to boost your scrap metal recycling income? See our post on What Scrap Metals Are the Most Profitable?


Aluminum cans be a great source of extra cash or even a nice thing to focus on if recycling is your full-time business. Little by little you’ll find your collection growing and the payout is worth the time and keeping a couple of bags of cans in the garage until you’re ready to cash in.

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

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