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HomeGADGETSELECTRONICSWhy Recycling Electronics Could Be Your Next Financial Opportunity

Why Recycling Electronics Could Be Your Next Financial Opportunity

The old saying that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” is more true than ever before. That’s because the world is producing ever-larger piles of electronic trash that can be recycled for money. Recycling electronics could be your next great idea for a side hustle or small business.

Billions of people use mobile phones and other electronic devices, and as they upgrade to new versions, their old phones often get discarded and forgotten. This growing pile of old smartphones, computers, tablets, and game consoles is known as electronic waste, or “e-waste.” The total amount of e-waste in the world increased by 60% from 2010-2019, and only about 17% of all electronic waste is getting recycled.

There is a huge supply of old devices that need to be recycled, and there is money in all those old phones, laptops, tablets, and other used electronics. Many used electronics can be refurbished and re-sold for cash. Even the most broken, obsolete devices can still contain valuable materials like gold, silver, palladium, and platinum.

Here are a few ideas for how you can start a business or side hustle by recycling electronics.

1. Sell old computer parts for scrap

Do you enjoy tinkering with old electronics and looking at the parts inside? If you have a good eye for detail and a steady hand with a heat gun, you could make money by dismantling old computers and re-selling the parts on eBay or other online marketplaces.

People will often pay significant money to get particular components of old computers. This means that the electronic scrap parts inside an old desktop PC could be worth more than the computer itself.

How to get started: If you have any old computers lying around the house, or can obtain some for free from friends and family, start there. Do your research on eBay and other forums to see which parts are in-demand and how much people are willing to pay. Experiment with dismantling a few computers to see how much time it takes to collect and clean the components, and how much money you can realistically make per hour/per computer/per device.

2. Start a neighborhood electronics recycling drive

There is money to be made by recycling old electronics, but most people don’t know how to do it or where to get started. Not everyone has the time or energy to figure out how to sell their old phones online or drive their old devices to some special waste management facility. Providing electronics recycling services in your local area can help people declutter their homes and get immediate local help with a complex problem.

People in your neighborhood might have dozens or hundreds of old devices sitting around in their homes, and they might be willing to give you these old “junk” devices for free. Offer to take people’s old phones and electronics devices off their hands and save them time, and they might give you some valuable “junk.”

How to get started: Print fliers or advertise on social media in your local area, saying that you’re having an electronics recycling drive. Offer to take people’s e-waste on a certain date; you might want to offer to pick up devices from people’s homes.

3. Become an electronics recycling supplier for local businesses

If you are confident in your skills to dismantle old electronics and you understand how to make money from electronics recycling at a larger scale, you might want to take the leap into starting a small business in the electronics recycling industry.

You can form a limited liability company (LLC) or other business entity, become an EPA-certified electronics recycler, and make your business “official” in the eyes of your customers. Electronics recycling has huge opportunities for side hustles and small businesses, simply because there’s so much of the stuff. More e-waste is being generated all the time, but most of it isn’t getting recycled.

Part of the challenge is that it’s hard to find the right level of electronics recycling help. Individual people have to figure out how to sell or recycle their old devices, and big corporations often have large-scale recycling relationships with major national service providers that handle massive quantities of e-waste. This leaves room in the middle: your electronics recycling business could serve smaller companies and other organizations in your local community.

How to get started: Start marketing yourself to local businesses, hospitals, schools, or other organizations and ask them about how they handle their IT asset disposition or computer liquidation. Many companies might have old electronics devices that they’d be happy to get rid of. Not every company will give away its electronic waste for free; some will expect to be paid. Consider getting a small business loan or line of credit if you need to pay cash upfront to source your electronic waste material. And make sure you follow any laws for how to handle and safely dispose of electronic waste.

Electronics recycling is a fast-growing industry, as device-loving people upgrade and replace their old phones, laptops, tablets, and other tech items. The global market for electronics recycling is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 13.6% from 2022-2030, according to

Starting an electronics recycling business is not easy. You need to comply with environmental rules and safety standards, and research your market to understand how much money you can realistically make. But if you’re willing to build relationships with local people and organizations that can supply you with a steady amount of old devices, recycling electronics could be a great side hustle or small business idea for 2024.

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