Recycling fundraising programs involve collecting recyclable materials and then turning that material in for reimbursement. Collection can take place either at a fundraising drive or through steady collection throughout the year.

Recycling fundraisers have been around for a long time and have a wide range of appeal. In addition to requiring no up front investment, the thought of keeping usable products out of landfills of while raising money for your organization is gratifying and your contribution to the environment is good for your group’s image in the community.

With the right product, recycling fundraisers can be profitable. In the past, groups who were interested in fundraising through recycling programs focused on paper products, bottles, and aluminum cans but those items are rarely collected today.

Since so many communities include the recycling of mixed paper, cans and bottles as part of their regular trash collection service, the payout for these items (which was never that great to begin with) has decreased somewhat. In response to this waning profitability, many recycling fundraisers have gone “high tech”.

Ink jet printer cartridges and cell phones are the items most fundraising groups recycle today, while laptops, PDAs and digital cameras are gaining in popularity. The amount collected per item varies greatly, but generally speaking, ink jet and laser printer cartridges net anywhere between $2 and $15 each.

Cell phones are typically valued between $1 and $6 per phone, while PDAs and digital cameras yield up to $50 each. Laptops are the most profitable, with the potential to earn $80 or more for your group.

One hold out from the “old school” type of recycling fundraiser is the clothing fundraiser. The advantage to the clothing fundraiser is that community participation tends to be very high – everyone has old clothes they want to get rid of.

Clothing fundraisers collect wearable clothes for groups that then redistribute them to the needy, usually in third world countries. They are usually done as a “drive” and pay approximately $.04 per pound of clothing collected.

Another old style recycling fundraiser involves collecting bottles and cans.  In these states you can still turn in empties for the deposit and beer and pop cans are always in demand since they’re continuously recyclable. This is an ideal on-going fundraiser since you can collect bottles and cans from all of your supporters and their friends and families all year long.