Recycling Centers: Cash for Trash

When I first got to San Diego, I wished I could recycle but I was too ill to gather large quantities and go to one of those industrial recycling centers. Recently, I learned that there are alternatives that are cleaner and more friendly to small scale recycling for a little money. I now do a little recycling on a regular basis. It helps.

Tips for finding places to get cash for recyclables:

  • Walmart: At least at some locations, Walmart pays cash for recyclables. The two I have been to had a sign on the front door indicating they pay for recyclables. One location explicitly told me they did not take crushed cans and they did not take any glass. (They also said they only took "water bottles and soda cans" but I have recycled soda bottles, cans for tea, etc.) The Walmart I currently go to takes plastic, aluminum and glass and has not hassled me about crushed cans.
  • Target: At least at some locations, Target will also takes recycling at the customer service desk.
  • Self Serve Reverse Vending Machines: For a time, I frequently went to a grocery store that has these out front. The machines issue receipts that can be turned in at any cash register in the store. There are three separate machines for plastic, glass, and cans. The machines can be picky about condition. This was my favorite method for recycling.
  • Cal Recycle This website seems to be the most reliable, accurate info online for recycling in California. It also has a nifty directory for locating recycling centers via zip code. Here is the data set for San Diego County. I recommend you click "show all" and then sort by city to find what's closest to you (just click on the word "city" at the top of the column).
  • Supermarket Recycling San Diego County This lists grocery stores that pay for recyclables. I have some of the stores on this list. My experience so far: Every place handles recycling differently. Also, I think the listing is incomplete. I think I know of at least one place off the top of my head that it not listed there. So pay attention to signs on the front of stores where groceries are sold. I shopped at one place pretty much daily for over a year before someone pointed out to me that they take recyclables there.