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How to make money by selling aluminum pull tabs on eBay

Aluminum tabs and cans are both recyclable.
golden aluminum drink cans piled image by photooiasson from Fotolia.com

Aluminum can pull tabs are used to make crafts, clothing, household goods and jewelry, and artisans making these items need a steady supply. These people may not want to take the time to pull tabs from cans, or may not have a large enough supply, so they will purchase these tabs from another source. You can make some extra money by gathering these tabs and packaging them for sale.

Accumulate a Supply

Obtaining a steady stream of supply of these pull tabs is the first step in making money. Start by removing the tabs from all of your own empty aluminum cans. Recruit your friends and family members to do the same thing for you. Offer to pay a small amount for the trouble of collecting tabs, or just pick up the cans and collect them yourself.

In states with returnable deposit laws on beverage containers, a redemption center may let you harvest these tabs from returned cans. Ask the recycling center if you can do this, or the center may do this for you if you pay them a fee per tab. A few redemption centers should give you a sufficient supply. You can also supplement your supply by placing large orders with a wholesale company, and splitting them up into smaller orders. Look for tabs in different colors to offer more choices.


If your state does not have a returnable deposit, offer to pick up aluminum cans for recycling. After you harvest the tabs, you can sell the cans for the recyclable aluminum value.

Process the Tabs

Processing the tabs correctly leaves them ready for the purchaser to use. Removing the round part of the tab that held the rivet to the can (which is usually broken and curled) will allow you to fit more tabs in a container, reducing your shipping costs. Make certain that the tabs are clean and dry. If the tabs have leftover beverages on them, wash and dry them before packaging. Sort the tabs by color and package them in Ziploc bags or boxes with the same amount in each container.

Cost of Tabs Sold

To price effectively, you must first calculate your cost to purchase or acquire your tabs. This is the amount you pay a redemption center or wholesaler, or what it costs you in time and labor to gather these tabs. Also, keep records of how much time you spend collecting tabs, and multiply it by an hourly rate that you would pay yourself for the work. If you pay someone else to do this, that pay is part of the cost. Subtract any money received from recyclers buying whole cans from you collected in this process.

Pricing Strategy and Competition

Your sale price must also be consistent with the market, meaning you must be competitive. Check other eBay sellers to learn how they price the tabs. If you cannot make money selling tabs at a competitive price, you must reduce your costs, or increase the price. Be creative, and offer extras to people purchasing which may encourage them to pay more. Offering different packaging or different quantities are examples, but being creative will let you stand out. Colored tabs sell for a premium price as well.

You can add shipping fees to the purchase price, but you must select the most efficient shipping methods to keep costs low. The U.S. Postal Service offers flat rate priority shipping in a box big enough for 1000 tabs for $5.95


  • Make sure that you ship your tabs as soon as you verify that the purchaser has paid for them. Prompt shipments will help ensure good feedback, giving people encouragement to buy from you.
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