Starting a Recycling Business

By Donald Michael Schwartz
starting a recycling business

Job Duties

When starting a recycling business your job duty will be to collect recyclable goods such as cans, newspapers, bottles, ect. and take them to a recycling center where you can trade these goods for cash. You will be helping reduce the waste on the planet while also earning extra cash. If you have a working van, SUV or pickup truck, then starting a recycling business may be just the income source for you. To run a successful recycling business, you need to be part community organizer, part commodities trader, and part manual laborer, and on-the-fly mechanic. You will need to print up flyers and advertise in other ways. You will need to develop a route and schedule for your business. You will need to use good body mechanics when lifting and moving recyclables. You will be securing knots and strategizing the best placement of boxes and bundles in your truck or van. You will also need to educate people on the benefits of recycling, and keep up with the latest recycling trends and news.

Where will you work?

When starting a recycling business the best area to work would be an urban area where there is demand for recycling waste, but not enough programming. You will need reasonable access to recycling intake centers. A rural area with pockets of sub-divisions or businesses which produce a good supply of recyclable materials may also be good. You will also want to check out if your state pays for certain recyclable goods. For example some states in the US currently pay 5 cents per can and bottle, while some pay 10 cents and others pay none. Be sure to find out how much your state pays for certain recycable goods.

Basic Costs

When starting a recycling business you will need a reliable vehicle, insurance, and any necessary permits and licenses. You will need an advertising budget. Of course, you will need a fuel and vehicle maintenance budget. You will also need to attain some recycling containers.

Tips for Starting a Recycling Business

Be Reliable- You need to make your scheduled pickups. People will not want trash sitting around. They will want to have it recycled in a timely manner, so they can refill containers with more recyclable material.

Have a main source of recycling income- Find out which recycling commodity is paying well, such as catalytic converters, toner cartridges, laptops, cellphones and newspapers. Some recyclables may be loss leaders, but if people want to have them recycled bad enough it may be worth keeping them as part of your recycling portfolio.

Identify your knowledge and skills- Lifting, mapping and organizing skills are important, but you must also be good at math to determine what your net profit will be as the price-per-ton goes up and down on your recycling commodities.

Seek out working partnerships- Many times – even when a municipality has a good curb-side recycling program – apartments, condos, and businesses can be lost in the shuffle. Seek out these kinds of places and offer them contracts. You can also set up fundraising programs with charitable organizations.

Build your portfolio- Build a web site with videos, and written testimonials of happy customers and local leaders. Make recycling exciting. Use colorful charts to track the success and benefits of your community recycling program. Maybe, you can show how you have been saving the city or county money on public works, with the work of your private hauling company.

Licensing and Registration- Make sure you have all the necessary licensing, permits, and registrations. Also, make sure you keep up with all the related laws and ordinances.

Liability insurance- Talk to a good commercial insurance agent about possible liabilities for your company.

Keep an open mind- You will need to keep your imagination running in order to stay competitive with municipalities and other recyclers. You should always be on the lookout for new kinds of recycling ventures. For instance, you could offer onsite recycling by turning leaves into fertilizer. You could also start a composting and/or biofuel co-op. You could use the resulting fuel to help power your vehicle and equipment.

Specialization- When starting a recycling business you may decide to specialize in recycling specific goods such as medical devices. You will need to get a special license and training to handle these medical devices but the profits made can be worth while.

Advertising a Recycling Business

When starting a recycling business you can advertise through the following methods. You can test various forms of advertising to see which are the most effective for your business in your location. Keep the advertising methods that are bringing you the highest return on investment for your recycling business.

  • Recycling Business Cards- Give out your recycling business cards whenever an opportunity appears. Network as much as possible.
  • Flyers- Determine if you can put up flyers in local grocery stores, parks, bakeries, restaurants, community centers, and more. It is best to ask the owner of these businesses for permission first. Also hand out flyers to passer byes on the street.
  • Website- You can decide to develop a website to provide clients with access to general information about your recycling business.
  • Craigslist.com- You can use Craigslist.com to advertise your services.
  • Ecycler.com- Click on “Find recyclables” at the top to find people in your area who are looking to recycle.

Not sure about starting a recycling business? See a list of small business ideas

Do you have a business story or experience you would like to share?

Share with us your story on starting a recycling business.

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Resources


Small Business Development Center- consult with experts

SCOREs - find a SCORES chapter near you to speak with a business consultant.

Small Business Administration- provides information for starting a small business.