How to Make Money from Trash

by RobertKeith

When most people think of the word "trash," they primarily think of useless heaps of garbage that are no longer good for anything

What they don't think of, though, is the fact that there are considerable amounts of money to be made from the trash that piles up in every city and town in the world. If you have an entrepreneurial streak, you can cash in on the garbage created by other people. Here are a few of the many ways you can make money from trash.

Recycle Scrap Metal

Whenever construction projects take place, appliances are thrown away or rusted-out cars are disposed of, there's an opportunity to make money from scrap metal. Even though it's thrown away by most people without a second thought, scrap metal can be fairly profitable if you can get hold of it in large enough quantities. Even working on a fairly small scale by collecting scrap metal in a pickup truck, scrappers can make as much as $200 per day, provided they can find the right types of metal. 

Brush Sweeps Money
Brush Sweeps Money

Look for Salable Items

Not all trash consists of used coffee grounds and junk mail. In fact, many people throw out items that they simply don't have a use for anymore. These items are often in perfectly good condition and could be resold as secondhand pieces. Wooden furniture, such as small tables or bookshelves, are especially good for resale, since they don't have any upholstery that can be stained while sitting outside. You won't always find salable items in the trash, but if your community has a couple of days a year where its garbage collection service will accept larger items it normally wouldn't take, driving through your neighborhood in search of good items can prove to be fairly profitable. 

Get Paid to Remove Junk

As previously mentioned, there are many items that city sanitation services usually won't take. Furniture, large household items and appliances are a few examples, but there are many others. When people need to get rid of these items, they often find themselves puzzling over what to do with them; that's where a trash removal service can come in handy. Hauling away another person's trash may seem like an unusual way to make money, but the trade can be surprisingly profitable. In fact, some small businesses specializing in hauling trash away can make hundreds of dollars each and every day. 

In some cases, junk removal will involve taking a single large piece of trash off of a private individual's hands. There are, however, also opportunities for more substantial business. For instance, landlords whose tenants have left their belongings in a property often hire junk removers to get rid of the items quickly. The best part about being involved in junk removal is that, if you find good items, you can then resell them, even after you've been paid to haul them away. Whatever items you can't sell can be carted to a landfill, where you'll be charged a small fee for having them accepted. 

Recycle Electronic Waste

If your entrepreneurial ambitions are larger and you have a fair amount of startup capital to invest, you can tap into a massive store of value in the form of junk electronics. Modern electronics contain a wide range of precious metals, including gold and silver that are meant to improve conductivity in electrical connections. Though the amounts aren't large, the value of the metal in an electronic device can be surprising. One ton of smartphones, for instance, contains about 10 ounces of gold, which at current prices is worth well over $10,000. Beyond gold and silver, electronics can be stripped for scrap copper, rare earth metals and even the plastics of which their outer cases are made, all of which can be recycled. Starting an electronic waste recycling business is no small task, but the amount of raw materials that are thrown away each year can make it quite profitable once you achieve a reasonably large scale. 

These are just a few of the many ways in which the trash produced by other people can be turned into money in your pocket. Whether you're looking to recycle or get paid for hauling away trash that no one else wants, there's good money to be made in the trash market.

Updated: 05/26/2018, RobertKeith
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