How to Recycle Plastic Bottles for Money: State Programs Explained

You cannot recycle plastic bottles for money unless your state has a “bottle bill,” which charges a deposit when purchasing beverages in plastic bottles, glass bottles, and/or aluminum cans and pays the deposit back to the customer when recycling.

Many states without bottle bills do have residential curbside recycling programs, mandatory recycling, and recycling centers where you can drop off empty, clean plastic bottles and other recyclables. (You can find local plastic recycling options at Earth911.com.) However, these programs do not pay participants.

States That Have Bottle Deposits/Returns

There are 10 states with bottle bills at the time of this writing. We’ve each state’s deposit amount for plastic bottles, daily return limit, and the popular stores with bottle return locations. To gather this information, we checked each state government’s bottle bill legislation and contacted major grocery chains to find out where bottle return stations are available.

Keep in mind that stores are only required to take back the bottle and can brands that they sell. The bottle return receptacle will count the number of items you return and issue you a store credit receipt for the total amount. You can apply the credit to your purchase at the store or cash the bottle slip in at the customer service desk. You may want to ask whether to leave the bottle caps on or take them off; some return locations recycle bottle caps separately.

California

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents for under 24 ounces; 10 cents for 24 ounces or more
  • Daily limit: 50 per material type (50 plastic, 50 glass, 50 aluminum)
  • Bottle return locations: Albertsons, Kroger, Safeway, and Walmart

Connecticut

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents
  • Daily limit: No limit
  • Bottle return locations: Price Chopper, Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, and Walmart

Hawaii

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents
  • Daily limit: No limit; under 400 is recommended
  • Bottle return locations: KTA Super Stores, Safeway, and Walmart

Iowa

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents
  • Daily limit: No limit; under 500 is recommended
  • Bottle return locations: Fareway, Hy-Vee, and Walmart

Maine

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents; liquor bottles 15 cents
  • Daily limit: No limit
  • Bottle return locations: Hannaford, Shaw’s, and Walmart

Massachusetts

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents
  • Daily limit: 120 per day per retail customer; no limit at redemption centers
  • Bottle return locations: Hannaford, Shaw’s, and Walmart

Michigan

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: 10 cents
  • Daily limit: $25 per day, per retailer
  • Bottle return locations: Kroger, Meijer, and Walmart

New York

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents
  • Daily limit: From 72 to 240, depending on retailer size; no limit if you give a 48-hour notice of a large amount
  • Bottle return locations: Albertsons, Meijer, Wegmans, and Walmart

Oregon

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: 10 cents
  • Daily limit: No statewide limits, but stores under 5,000 square feet can limit to 24 items per person, per day
  • Bottle return locations: Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway, and Walmart

Vermont

  • Plastic bottle deposit/refund: Five cents; liquor bottles 15 cents
  • Daily limit: No limit
  • Bottle return locations: City Market, Hannaford, Mehuron’s Market, Shaw’s, and Walmart

If your state doesn’t have a bottle bill or doesn’t offer paid can recycling, see our previous research on prices for scrap aluminum.