How to make money from recycling

One of the best motivating forces for recycling waste comes from the income opportunities that it creates. Through recycling and diverting waste, anyone can earn an income or even start and maintain a sustainable business.

Waste management is an important part of society. Recycling waste unlocks the value of refuse, creates jobs and boosts the local economy. As such, a number of municipalities and businesses in South Africa are partnering with various organisations to improve waste management in a number of communities.

Wide-sweeping policies and corporate action are a great start, but what can people do at a community level to generate an income? And why should they?

Waste not, want not




For starters, taking small steps such as recycling your waste helps the environment. It reduces litter and reduces the need for virgin  materials during manufacturing. It also has a positive effect on air and water quality.

And if saving the planet isn’t enough to convince you, how does making some cold, hard cash sound?

Five Ways to Make Money from Recycling

  1. Think twice before you toss
  2. Build a business
  3. Sign up your school for a chance to win a share of R110 000 in prizes with our Ronnie Recycler Schools Programme
  4. Deposit your waste in a reverse vending machine
  5. Sell broken or unwanted electronics

Show me the money

Think twice before you toss

Paper, plastic, cans and glass can all be recycled for cash.

Many people in South Africa make a living from collecting recyclables and exchanging them for money through numerous programmes across the country. These people are known in the recycling industry as collectors.

Collectors are often seen collecting recyclables from residential areas, schools, communities and small businesses on refuse days.

Although a very strenuous task, collecting is an invaluable job within the circular economy and a relatively simple way to make quick cash.

Collectors, or waste pickers, collect recyclables from households
Collectors, or waste pickers, collect recyclables from households to sell to a buy-back centre or recycling branch for cash.

If collecting is not for you, help others by separating your waste and leaving your clear bags next to your general waste bin on municipal collection days. This makes it easier for collectors to reclaim your recyclables.

If you live in an area that is inaccessible to collectors, start small at home by categorising your waste then dropping them off at a recycling centre yourself.

Find your nearest Mpact Recycling branch.

Build a business 

Organisations such as Mpact Recycling have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs start their own recycling businesses by ensuring a constant offtake of the recyclables.

This includes all types of suppliers including dealers, waste collectors, and buy-back centres. In turn, these small enterprises employ people and contribute to both the country’s environmental and economic sustainability, as well as boosting  a circular economy.

Contact us to find out how to start your own recycling business

Phepha Recycling, a dealer within our network, has made a business from collecting recyclables. He has also seen many collectors who supply Phepha Recycling make their own successful businesses.
Sign up your school for a chance to win a share of R110 000 in prizes with our Ronnie Recycler Schools Programme

The Ronnie Recycling Schools Programme encourages nursery schools, primary schools and high schools in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to collect as much recyclable paper, cardboard, cartons and packaging as possible.

Phepha Recycling
Learners from Cavendish Primary School, a participant in the Ronnie Recycler School Programme, deposit their paper recyclables into their Ronnie Paperbank in an effort to win their share of R110 000 in prizes.

To qualify for the prizes, schools must collect and supply Mpact Recycling with a minimum of 4 tonnes of mixed paper, white paper, cardboard boxes, plastic PET bottles and glass beverage bottles.

The competition runs from 1st February 2022 until 31st October 2022. Terms & conditions apply.

Deposit your waste in a reverse vending machine

Packaging plays a vital role in protecting products, highlighting that the effort to reduce pollution is not just about finding ways to minimise packaging in a responsible way but also about supporting consumers in their efforts to recycle, which, in turn, boosts the country’s recycling industry.

Earn money and rewards such as airtime, data and vouchers by depositing your waste in a reverse vending machine at select retail stores such as Woolworths and Pick n Pay. Plastic, metal, glass and cartons are all accepted by the vending machine.

Download the Imagined Earth mobile app on the Apple or Google Play Store to find out more.

Sell broken or unwanted electronics

E-waste contains chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment. When electronics are mishandled during disposal, these chemicals end up in our soil, water, and air.

Any electronic gadgets operated by electricity or battery including computers, TVs, mobile phones, electronic games, small and large appliances, stoves, fridges, air conditioners, etc can be recycled.

You can bring these items to your nearest Remade Recycling branch in exchange for cash.

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