The 18 Best Things You Can Recycle For Money In The UK

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Looking to earn a little extra cash while keeping your stuff out of landfill? Try my guide to the best things you can recycle for money, and see how much you can earn from what would otherwise go to waste.

Recycling might be good for the planet, but did you know it can also be good for your pocket? Yup, waste items you have lying around the house that might otherwise go in the bin can be turned into cold, hard cash. And if not cash, then handy vouchers that can help to ease the financial load that we are all facing right now.

From old electronics that have seen better days to seemingly worthless items such as toilet roll tubes, empty gin bottles and egg boxes – these can all be recycled for money. In fact, I’ve found 18 of the best recyclables that can make you some extra cash whilst doing good.

18 Things You Can Recycle For Money

Father and son putting items in recycling boxes with a blue text box that reads things you didn't know that you can recycle for money.

Here are my top items that you can recycle for money.

To help you out even further, I’ve outlined the best places to sell your items. I’ve also included, where possible, how much you can expect to earn for each item, plus my top tips to aid in the recycling process.

1. Toilet Roll Tubes

pile of toilet roll tubes ready to be recycled for money.

Best place to sell: eBay

Toilet roll tubes may seem like an unusual item to recycle for money. However, toilet roll tubes are highly prized by crafters and gardeners alike, and people will pay for job lots of toilet roll tubes. This means you could be quids in just by saving your loo roll tubes and listing them on online auction sites.

A quick look at what toilet roll tubes have recently sold for on eBay shows that for 100 tubes you could get in the region of £8 (8p per tube). Whilst it’s not a huge amount, it is £8 more than the £0 you would get for popping the tubes straight into your recycling bin.

eBay selling fees are currently calculated as 12.8% of the total amount of the sale (which includes the item price, postage, taxes and any other applicable fees), plus a fixed charge of 30p per order. So while you do have to factor these costs in, it can still be a small boost to your bank balance for very little work.

Top tip: reuse an old box to keep your packaging costs low.

2. Egg Boxes

Egg boxes used as planters

Best places to sell: eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree

Like toilet roll tubes, egg boxes may seem worthless. However, they are actually useful items for crafters, gardeners and those who keep chickens. Just think, if you kept chickens and wanted to sell the eggs that your brood produced, then a cheap source of egg boxes would be pretty handy to have.

From checking the recently sold listings on eBay, egg boxes sell for as much as £7 for 50 empty cartons. Again, you’re not going to get rich any time soon. But it’s £7 that you wouldn’t have in your pocket.

eBay is the best option for attracting the widest audience – but does come with a cost. Advertising for free on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree limits you to a local audience. This means it may take you longer to sell them, but won’t cost you anything. People will also collect the boxes from you, rather than you having to deliver them. For the most chance of success, I’d say sell on eBay unless you live in a more rural area.

3. Smartphones

Smartphone on notebook with TED app open

Best places to sell: Reboxed or Giff Gaff

Have an old phone or two lying around in a drawer? Rather than gathering dust, these old phones could generate some extra cash. Your old phone can be sold to specialist resellers, such as Reboxed or Giff Gaff. These resellers will then erase your data, before refurbishing and reselling your phone. This keeps your old tech in use for longer, whilst adding a little extra money to your bank account.

Even if your phone is beyond being able to be refurbished, these companies can still recycle your phone for you for free. Precious metals and components in these devices – such as gold, silver, copper and iron – can be salvaged and given a new lease of life.

Top tip: Although Reboxed and Giff Gaff do securely wipe your data, it’s always advisable to wipe your phone – by which I mean erasing all your personal data – before selling it.

4. Laptops, Tablets & Games Consoles

Laptop with headphones on blue table

Best place to sell: Currys (trade-in rather than cash)

If you have an old laptop, tablet or games console that you no longer use, then electrical retailer Currys offers a handy trade-in service. Here you can get a gift voucher towards your next Currys purchase. Whilst it’s not quite as good as receiving cash, if you are planning to upgrade your old tech then it’s a good way to make some savings.

Simply use the online valuation tool to get a quote for trading in your device. Once you’re happy with the quote, you can then finalise your trade-in online or in-store. Curry’s then refurbishes, reuses or repairs your old devices, helping them to find a new life.

If your item isn’t suitable for trade-in, you can still bring it into your local Currys store for recycling. As a bonus for recycling, you’ll then receive at least £5 off your next eligible tech purchase at Currys.

Top tip: Although Currys do securely wipe your data, make sure you erase all your personal data from your device before selling it.

5. CDs and DVDs

Copy of Lauryn Hill CD in a cardbox box ready for recycling

Best place to sell: Ziffit

If you are looking to downsize your CD or DVD collection, you’ll know it can be tricky to pass these items on sustainably. CDs and DVDs are notoriously difficult to recycle, and in this age of streaming are hard to resell.

Step forward, CD and DVD selling sites. Here you can scan the barcode of your CDs and DVDs using an app on your smartphone to sell them for cash.

But what happens once you sell them? Not all sites list details about what happens to your broken CDs and DVDs, or the discs they cannot sell. This means your old discs could potentially end up in landfill.

The best site I’ve found that will guarantee to recycle the discs it can’t sell is Ziffit. This certified B-Corp – a company that has been independently verified as having high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability – is part of the circular economy. This means that no product is sent to landfill. Instead, Ziffit either resells or recycles every single item that is sent to it.

For more ideas check out my post on how to recycle CDs.

6. Amazon Devices

Old Kindle ready to be recycled for cash.

Best place to sell: Amazon (trade-in rather than cash)

If you have any old Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, Fire TV devices or Echo devices that still function but you no longer want, then Amazon offers a useful trade-in service. Here you can send in your devices to be recycled. Whilst you don’t get money, you do get an Amazon Gift Card and get up to 25% off a new qualifying Amazon Device.

Traded-in Amazon devices are restored and re-sold to new owners wherever possible. Amazon says any devices not qualified for resale are recycled through an Amazon-approved recycler.

Top tip: Wipe any data and unlock your device from any cloud services before sending your trade-in to Amazon.

7. Wine Corks

Mini planters made from cork
Mini Cork Planters DIY from Treehugger

Best place to sell: eBay

Wine corks are another weird thing that you can recycle for money. Why? Well, they’re prized by crafters and people into fishing. Plus, they are also highly prized by people planning weddings and wanting to make sustainable decorations for their big day. It turns out that there are tons of wine cork ideas for weddings out there, that often require A LOT of cork. As such, there is very much a market for your old corks.

Recently sold prices on eBay range between £3.50 for 65 corks to £12 for 250 corks. Like most of the other items that you can recycle for cash, selling corks is never going to be your key to early retirement. However, diverting waste from landfill while putting a bit of extra cash from your pocket is never to be sniffed at!

8. Empty Gin Bottles

Lamp made from recycled Isle of Harris gin bottle
Image used c/o Boozy Lights

Best places to sell: eBay, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree

Empty gin bottles may sound like another odd thing to recycle for money, but there is a strong demand for these types of bottles from crafters. There are heaps of ways to upcycle old gin bottles, and some talented people even make a living on Etsy from upcycling bottles into lamps. Recycling glass is energy-intensive, so reusing glass is always a more environmentally friendly option.

Whilst you can sell gin bottles locally through Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, I think your best option is probably eBay to reach a wider market. On eBay empty Mermaid Gin bottles have recently sold for as much as £10 per bottle. Meanwhile, brands like Malfy, Hendricks, Monkey 47, Gin Mare and Whitely have sold for around £3-£4 a bottle.

Top tip: Save any packaging that comes your way so that you can securely and sustainably post your bottles without fear of breakage.

9. Empty Perfume Bottles

Empty perfume bottle ready to be recycled for money

Best place to sell: eBay

Empty perfume bottles may seem like an unlikely thing to recycle for money. However, they are often sought out by collectors – particularly if the bottles are old, rare or from an iconic brand. Other people buy empty bottles for crafting purposes or as decorative items. And for others, it could be a way to pretend they can afford to shop for luxury perfume brands by having empty bottles on display.

Whatever the reason – if you have an old perfume bottle then it may well be you can recycle it for money. As it’s such a niche market, I’d say the best place to try and sell your bottles will be eBay. Here, empty Jo Malone bottles have recently sold for £12. Tom Ford bottles sold for anywhere between £12 and £50. Meanwhile, an empty bottle of Baccarat Rouge with its original box sold for an impressive £44.50.

Top tip: If you buy a new bottle of perfume, and intend to sell the bottle once you’re done, keep hold of the original box so you can sell the bottle and box together. You may earn a lot more.

10. Candle Jars

Trio of candles on a table

Best place to sell: eBay

Something else you can recycle for money is candle jars – particularly candle jars from designer brands. This includes Diptyque, which sells for around £9 – £50 a jar on eBay, and Jo Malone, which sells for around £8 – £20 per jar on eBay. It’s a more affordable way to access a luxury brand, and people like to refill them for a luxury look for less.

Even if you don’t burn designer candles, there is still a market for candle jars. Making your own candles is a popular craft, and offering used candle jars makes it cheaper for crafters to make their candles. You won’t get as much as selling a designer jar – a bundle of 7 non-branded jars recently sold on eBay for £3.53 – but your old jars will get a new life.

Top tip: Remove any candle wax from the jar, and clean it up first, before selling. See my guide on how to remove candle wax from jars if you’re stuck.

11. Glass Jars

glass jars with the sticky labels removed

Best places to sell: Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree

Got a bunch of old jars lying around? You can recycle these for money on local selling sites like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. This is as long as you still have the lids, and the lids aren’t rusty. Lidded jars are sought out by local jam, preserve and chutney makers, who, at peak harvest times may have more produce than they do jars.

Due to the weight and fragility of glass jars, it’s best to try and sell these locally on sites like Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree. Keep the price low to make them attractive to local buyers, and you should sell them quickly.

Top tip: Aim to sell your jars at peak marmalade, jam and pickle-making times (January, and June through to September) for the most chance of selling success.

12. Furniture

IKEA shelves and other furniture in stylish living room

Best place to sell: IKEA (trade-in rather than cash).

If you have used IKEA furniture in good condition that you no longer want, then IKEA will buy it back from you in exchange for store credit. They’ll then sell your stuff for you so that it can stay out of landfill for longer.

What your used furniture is worth will vary, but IKEA says you’ll get more in-store credit for pieces that are in better condition or like-new.

Simply get a quote online, using IKEA’s Buyback estimator tool. If you’re happy with the quote, you can then take your furniture to your nearest IKEA store. Here it will be checked to see if the condition matches your description on the quote. A final price will then be determined, and you’ll then get store credit to spend on something you need.

Top tip: Your furniture needs to be returned to the store fully assembled, so make sure you can easily transport it before getting a quote.

13. Clothes

Old clothes folded up in boxes

Best place to sell: John Lewis (trade-in rather than cash).

For clothes that are still wearable, selling your preloved clothes online is one of the best ways to reduce textile waste whilst lining your pockets. However, you can still get some perks for recycling your old clothes that are no longer wearable.

Most high street brands that offer takeback schemes work with charity shops, and so only want clothes in good condition. However, John Lewis will take your old unwearable clothes as long as they are clean and you’re a member of its free My John Lewis loyalty scheme.

Simply bring in five or more items of pre-loved clothing to any of its fashion counters and you’ll get £5 off your next fashion or homeware purchase of £20 or more. See the full terms and conditions on its FashionCycle page. Your clothes are then recycled by Satcol, the largest charity-owned textiles sorting provider in the UK. 

14. Shoes

Person wearing black vegan trainers

Best place to sell: Schuh (trade-in rather than cash).

When your shoes are beyond the point of reselling or repair, then there are ways to recycle your shoes to help ensure they stay out of landfill, whilst getting a bit of money.

Schuh’s Sell Your Soles scheme is one way to recycle your shoes. Simply take any old and worn shoes from any brand to your nearest Schuh store. For each pair you hand in for recycling, Schuh will give you a voucher for £5 off a new pair of full-priced shoes costing £25 or more.

Schuh has partnered with Manchester-based Recyclatex to deliver its shoe recycling scheme. Recyclatex says it can recycle as much as 98% of all shoes handed in. Plus, for every tonne of old shoes collected for recycling, a donation is made by Recyclatex to the World Land Trust. This charity works with local partners around the world to save and protect critically threatened habitats for wildlife.

15. Ink Cartridges

empty printer cartridges

Best place to sell: The Recycling Factory

Printer cartridges can’t be recycled at home. They’re made from plastic and other mixed materials, including aluminium and steel. This makes recycling cartridges difficult in normal household recycling streams. As such, millions of cartridges end up in landfill every year.

However, if you put yours in the bin, then you’re missing the opportunity to get some money in your pocket by sending your cartridges off to a company that can recycle them.

The Recycling Factory, for example, are the UK’s largest recycler of inkjet cartridges, collecting and recycling over 8 million cartridges each year. There are over 200 cartridges eligible for cash on its recycling scheme. Simply order a free recycling box, and once you have 50 cartridges, you can send it off for free for recycling. Once processed, you’ll receive the money straight into your bank account or your PayPal account. Easy!

Alternatively, you can recycle your printer cartridges for charity.

16. Empty Aluminium Cans

Drinks can that can be recycled for money

Best place to sell: Local metal recyclers

Whether your tipple of choice is beer or fizzy drinks, it’s a little-known fact that you can recycle your cans for cash at your local metal recycling centre. Only aluminium cans can be sold. Thankfully more than 70% of drink cans are made from aluminium.

Aluminium is easy to recognise. Most aluminium cans are labelled with an ALU symbol. However, if you can’t see a symbol, don’t worry, there are ways to check. If your can has a shiny base then it’s probably aluminium. You can also check it with a magnet – if the magnet doesn’t stick to the can then it’s aluminium.

According to one recycler, you can get around 61p per kilo of cans you bring for recycling. A kilo works out at around 65 cans. So yes, it’s not exactly a real money-spinner. But it is an easy way to generate a little spare change from something you’d pop in your recycling bin.

Top tip: To make it easier to store your cans, crush them and store them in a box.

17. Cosmetics Containers & Packaging

selection of makeup products in plastic-free packaging

Best place to sell: Lush, L’Occitane or John Lewis (trade-in rather than cash).

Beauty product packaging and cosmetic containers are hard to recycle. Unless you have access to a TerraCycle cosmetics recycling point near you, then most end up in landfill.

Thankfully, some UK retailers will reward you with store credit for returning your empty packaging. This includes:

  • Lush – The Bring It Back recycling scheme invites customers in the UK to return any Lush plastic packaging to its shops for recycling. As a reward, you can claim 50p off your Lush shopping per qualifying item returned. You can also return Lush 10ml sample pots for an additional 5p off your shopping per item. Alternatively, you can return 5 full-sized qualifying items and get a free face mask.
  • L’Occitane – Bring in empty beauty and skin care products from L’Occitane or any beauty brand to be recycled through TerraCycle. You’ll then receive 10% off a full-price product in-store.
  • John Lewis – If you are a member of the free My John Lewis loyalty scheme you can get £5 off when you spend £20 or more on beauty products. Just bring in five or more clean, empty beauty product containers to be recycled at any of its beauty counters to get your reward,

18. TV Remote Controls

Two TV remote controls on a pink sofa

Best place to sell: eBay

Finally, if your old TV has broken, buy your remote still works then don’t bin the remote. Instead, you can recycle your old TV remote control for money. People on eBay will happily buy a used working TV remote to replace a broken or lost remote. And according to recently sold information on eBay, they’ll pay as much as £15 for a make that matches their TV.

Final Thoughts

From candle jars and gin bottles to remote controls and old clothes, there’s a way to recycle almost anything for a bit of money. You just have to find the right recycling route. After all, anything we keep out of landfill and give a second life helps conserve precious resources.

Anything else you’ve been able to recycle for cash? Do share in the comments below!

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One Comment

  1. Great ideas – sadly Ziffit was not buying any of the DVDs I was wanting to get rid of. I’d be interested in other ways to recycle DVDs and their containers