At one time, it was worth it for people to recycle aluminum cans for money.
So I thought it would be a good experience for my kids to the same, but I’m not so sure now! You see, advances in technology has made it possible for the aluminum in the cans to be stretch so far, that the can walls are almost as thin as paper . This in turn produces a much cheaper can!
While it might be worth it for kids, the hourly earning rate for crushing 5 cans a minute may not be worth it for adults.
See my calculations in the table below:
The tricky part is that the aluminum prices vary weekly and by state. So in my state, aluminum is going for .40 cents per lbs. In some states (Michigan and California) people can get a specific money amount for aluminum cans. For example, in Michigan the rate is 10 cents per can, in these cases, the effort would be worth it.
The 10 cents rate per aluminum can is much higher than my home state (Ohio). We typically only get 1.3 cents per can. In fact, a state like Michigan (which has such a great return policy) would have a rate of pay of around $30 per hour to crush cans! There has even been scams where people (mainly store owners) from surrounding states take their cans over to Michigan for reimbursements.
Now back to my state, do you think $3.75 is a good rate of pay for a 10-year-old to crush aluminum cans? I personally don’t think it is. Especially when you factor in the gas money it will take to get the cans to the recycling center and the cost of the plastic trash bag to gather them in.
Update: We are trying to decide whether to have my son collect cans to make money off of them, or to drop off at the local Fire Department. The Fire Department takes the cans as part of a charity effort.
I called a metal recycle center after this article was posted, and the aluminum rates are currently .60 cents per lbs in my state (Ohio)! So the current price is actually 50% higher than the .40 cents per lbs price that I initially used in this article! This just goes to show how much aluminum prices can fluctuate.
So revising my calculated number for hourly pay rate for crushing aluminum cans, the new pay rate would be 50% higher too, so it would be $5.63 per hour spent crushing cans! This revised rate is a bit better for a 10 year old, so perhaps it is worth it to a 10-year-old?
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