Who would have thought that you could profit from recycling used cardboard boxes?
You don’t even have to invest any money, just your time.
All you have to do is collect used boxes and resell them, but it does require some legwork and effort.
According to the Census Bureau, an estimated 29.8 million people reported living at a different residence in 2020 though the average is somewhere around 50 million.
Cardboard boxes used for packing are purchased from companies like U-Haul and UPS for every move. Once unpacked, these boxes are then discarded in the trash or dropped off at the city recycling bin.
This is such a wasted opportunity since you can resell these boxes to companies that will pay 50 cents to $2 per box depending on its size. They in turn profit by selling the used boxes to customers that are moving.
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Here’s how you can profit from recycling used cardboard boxes:
Where to Get Cardboard Boxes?
There are a few ways in which you can collect enough boxes to make this worth your while.
Just as I explained in my make money recycling aluminum cans post, this is the legwork required for succeeding here.
1. Look Around the House
Start by searching in your own home. Big boxes are easier to resell and are worth more so keep the smaller ones for your own storage needs. You can resell a wardrobe box with a metal rod for more than $2.
It’s okay if the boxes have writing on them, but they do need to be in good structural condition, and not damaged.
2. Ask Family and Friends
Next check with your family and friends if they have any unwanted cardboard boxes in good condition. They would be happy for the opportunity to get rid of large boxes that were taking up space in their garages, basement or attics.
3. Check Craigslist’s Free Section
Browse through Craigslist and you can find heaps of people wanting to get rid of their used boxes for free. Look through the Free section on Craigslist for free moving boxes. People are always trying to get rid of their moving boxes since they only needed them while moving to a new place.
There is a free section for each city. Search for free cardboard boxes in your city, and then simply pick them up from the curb.
4. U-haul Box Exchange
This is an online forum created by the giant moving company U-haul to allow people who exchange boxes with each other. But people also give away their boxes for free.
This is a site where people give away free stuff.
6. Grocery Stores
Perhaps the best place to get cardboard boxes is your local grocery store.
The Save A Lot store in my area always has tons of boxes that they will be happy to get rid of.
7. Liquor Stores
They have lots of thick boxes that are thrown in the garbage pile after the bottles are taken out of them.
They receive a few shipments each week and the majority of products come in packed in boxes.
9. Book Stores
Another perfect place to find good boxes as they usually bring in books packed in boxes.
10. Other Local Businesses
There are many other businesses besides the few mentioned above that can be a good source for cardboard boxes.
Businesses usually receive their stock packed in large, sturdy boxes, which are very easy to resell.
You could find businesses giving away their boxes on the Craigslist Free section.
Otherwise, try calling local companies in your area to see if they have any unwanted boxes.
You wouldn’t have to travel far to pick up boxes if you target businesses in your local area.
Do the math: if you collect and resell 250 boxes for a dollar each, that’s $250 in your pocket, so it’s definitely worth the effort in picking up boxes.
If you are also recycling phone books for money, you could hit two birds with one stone.
When checking these places ask for both unused phone books and cardboard boxes.
Where to Sell Used Cardboard Boxes?
You can earn some extra cash by collecting these boxes and reselling them in the “For Sale” category on Craigslist targeting people who are about to move and need boxes to pack things in.
But perhaps the easiest way to cash in your boxes is through specialized websites.
The biggest sites that pay decently for boxes are:
- U-Haul Box Exchange
- Quincy Recycle
- Duffy Box
- Sadlers.co.uk (for folks in the U.K.)
You would be looking at earning between 50 cents and $1.50 per box on these sites.
Where to Sell Used Cardboard Boxes Near Me
If the online option doesn’t appeal to you for whatever reason, you can try and find people who buy cardboard boxes near you. You can put an ad on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or any of these top apps for selling locally.
Alternatively, you could take these boxes down to a local recycling center where they recycle anything even paper, cans, plastic and more.
But the amount of money you can get for cardboard boxes in such places is far less than what you could get if you sell to people as storage or moving boxes through the sites mentioned above.
Once you have got the hang of recycling and reselling cardboard boxes using the above methods, get creative and think outside the box so to speak – look for different places to collect boxes and explore alternative avenues of reselling them.
Obviously, the more boxes you collect and resell the more money you will make.