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How to Start a Recycling Business

Are you interested in starting a recycling business? Do you want to know what it takes to setup a recycling plant? Then read on as I explain in detail how to start a recycling business from scratch.

Recycling is one of the businesses of the future that you must invest in now if you have the means. As the green awareness trend and eco-consciousness increases, the demand for recycled products or items will also increase. This opens an avenue for smart entrepreneurs to capitalize upon, make a living and amass wealth. Now for those who are yet to understand the concept of recycling and potentials it holds, I will give you a brief definition about it.

What is Recycling?

Recycling is simply the process of making of new products from products that has been used and disposed as waste. As a green entrepreneur, your duty here is to get these assumed useless waste products, recycle it into useful products and resell it to the same people who disposed it. Now if only you can catch the vision behind the concept of recycling, you will benefit immensely from a trend that is still in its beginner’s phase.

Another interesting potential of this recycling business is that most people still see it as a business about collecting soda cans, bottles, and old paper. While in reality, recycling businesses focuses on other items and materials, such as the gold found in cell phones and computers, or re-selling household goods.

Now setting up a recycling business requires a good knowledge of where to site your company, how to collect your trash goods and where to market or sell them, along with strong entrepreneurial skills and perseverance. But before I dive into the intricacies of setting up a recycling plant, let me briefly show you the potentials or running a recycling business and why I strongly recommend you venture into it.

4 Untold Facts about Recycling

Now for those who are naïve about the potentials of establishing your own recycling plant, let me throw in some proven statistics.

1.  The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash per day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste every year.

2.  In 2009, Americans alone were able to produce enough trash to circle the Earth 24 times and discarded almost 9 million tons of glass. That could fill enough tractor trailers to stretch from NYC to LA (and back). Statistics also shows that Americans discards 25,000,000 plastic bottles per hour and over 87 percent of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off programs of paper recycling. If all Americans recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees in every year.

 3.  In Nigeria and other developing nations like Ghana, Kenya, Brazil, India, etc with huge populations; the concept or recycling is still a mirage to them. In Nigeria, only Lagos state has taken the bold step to launch a waste-to-wealth initiative but the potential is still fresh and untapped.

4.  Over 75 percent of waste is recyclable, but only 30 percent of it are being recycled presently. We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste in every year. If the food were composted, it would decrease the same amount of greenhouse gas equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road.

This list can go on and on but I think the few I have said is enough. Are you still not convinced? Then here are some reasons why you should start a recycling business today.

 3+ Reasons why you should start a recycling business

Now what are the benefits of recycling? The importance of recycling to the economy and environment can never be over-emphasized. This is why the government is urging people to go green.

  1. Starting a recycling business makes you an entrepreneur with a sustainable means of livelihood. Why did I say this? The reason I said this is because unlike other industries that are dying, the green or eco-conservation industry is just emerging and still holds a lot of untapped potentials. The green movement is on and people are becoming more eco-conscious, so why not profit from this trend.
  2. Starting up a recycling plant also contributes to the economy, with respect to taxes, conservation of power consumption, local content creation, small and medium scale development, job creation and wealth distribution. For instance, the money saved through the consumption of less energy means more competitive price of goods. The producing cycle can be greatly decreased. Taking paper as an instance, the whole wood growth time lag is removed from the producing process.
  3. As a green entrepreneur or owner of an eco-conscious company, you are also contributing your quota in the movement for environmental protection because that little company you established will help curtail the problems of blocked drainage, incineration, carbon and greenhouse gas pollution, landfills, deforestation (tree conservation) and the conservation of mineral resources like fuel, coal, iron ore, etc. It means that energies from non-renewable resources are protected and saved for the future generations.

How to Start a Recycling Business – Sample Business Plan Template

1.  Decide on the aspect of recycling you want to venture into

Yes, this is the first and most important step. You must carry out an investigation on the type of recycling that will catches your interest and offers a good revenue potential or return on investment.

For instance, the recycling of paper, bottles, scrap metals and cans is labor intensive and does not yield much revenue unless you will be charging people for collecting their recycling from their homes. Recycling computers, cell phones, and other items containing scrap gold is also labor intensive and yields profitable revenue, while recycling household’s items for re-using seem to be the most rewarding.

2.  Acquire the basic knowledge

Knowledge is power, and the application of knowledge is tremendous power. Before jumping into invest your money in establishing a recycling plant, you must research and know everything that needs to be known about the specific recycling business you want to start; and green industry as a whole. You must study and understand the mode of operation and processing channels of a recycling plant. To gain such knowledge, you may need to spend some time working or researching in a recycling plant.

3.  Conduct a feasibility study

After acquiring the basic knowledge of your choice investment, you need to conduct a feasibility research so as to ascertain the profitability of the proposed business, the existing market demand, the type of equipment required to run your recycling plant, the best location to site your company, the manpower needed, the overhead capital and operating capital needed, where to source funds from, the level of competition, the financial forecast or projections, etc.

4.  Write a business plan

If you took the pain to conduct a feasibility research, then you have no problem writing a business plan. All you need to do is to turn your feasibility report into a business plan by adding a vision and mission statement, a strategic marketing plan and a biography of your management team. Once this is done, your business plan is ready to be presented to investors.

5.  Source for funds

Most recycling businesses are capital intensive and you may not have the capacity to self finance it, so you have to figure out a way to raise money for the project. Are you going to raise capital from angel investors, Venture capitalists, government agencies or NGOs? Or would you rather take a bank loan? The choice is yours to make.

6.  Assemble a team and commence the project

Once you have succeeded in executing step one to five, you can then proceed to assemble a business team that is both technical and management inclined. This team will help you in the setting up of the recycling plant and running the company. However, it is important that you obtain the necessary license and permit from both the federal, state and local government before commencing business operation.

A sample list of equipment needed for a recycling business

  • Recycling process management software
  • Business cards
  • Waste collection vehicles such as trucks, open end vans, etc.
  • Conveyors: – This is used to move both the trash and recycled products from receiving station to sorting station.
  • Hydraulic lifts: – This is used for transporting and loading both trashed and recycled materials like scrap metal, bottles, etc.
  • Industrial loaders: – This is used to transport materials to and fro the collection areas.
  • Magnets: – This is used in separating metals from other materials and to separate ferrous metals from non-ferrous metals.
  • Cranes
  • Vibratory feeders
  • Recycling screens
  • Balers
  • Compactors
  • Pulverizers: – They are used between the sorting and refining stages of the recycling process. Grinders and pulverizers are use for handling friable materials such as glass.
  • Shredders: – This is used for reducing materials like metal, paper, plastics, tires into smaller bits.

8 Challenges of starting a recycling business

Though recycling business is very lucrative and has many advantages. Yet, there are so many challenges accompany it. So below are some of the challenges to expect when starting a recycling business.

  1. A recycling business takes time, effort and resources to setup.
  2. It is capital intensive
  3. It is labor intensive
  4. Sourcing for scraps and waste products may proof a challenge as it takes a great effort to gather a reasonable quantity. Also, this is a very big challenge because not all scraps are worth it. It is required that you sort out those scraps are useful and in high demand.
  5. This business involves dealing with garbage, so it is been perceived as a dirty business. You must possess an enduring spirit to be able to deal with this kind of business as it involves dirt and garbage. The business has to do with sifting through garbage.
  6. Some of these scraps are hazardous. So you are likely to sustain injuries when gathering some of these scraps, as some of them are sharp metal objects, examples of this sharp metals are; aluminum, copper, etc.
  7. Toxins are inevitable because the nature of this business involves sifting through waste, so you are likely to come across toxins and these toxins are harmful to humans.
  8. Transporting the scrap to the recycling plant might prove a challenge because most recycling plant are sited very far away and will require a lot of money to transport the scraps to the place of recycling.

 Recycling Business ideas and Opportunities

Now what can be recycled? What business ideas or opportunities exist in the recycling / waste management industry? These are the questions most people ask. Well, I want you to know that the opportunities in recycling can never be exhausted. Examples of some of them are:

List of 50+ things that can be recycled

Human hair, Old Jewelry, Wine corks, Newspapers, Scrap Metal, Mattresses, Hearing Aids, Bones, Shoes, Cloths, Aluminum Cans, Fluorescent Bulbs, Food Containers, Eyeglasses, Bathtubs, sinks and toilets, Refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, Batteries, Old cars, Cell phone, Computers, Smoke detectors.

Paint, Rugs, Carpets and padding, Plastic Bottles, Old Bricks and concretes, electronics, kids toys, Curtains, Ink and toner cartridges, Tires, Roof shingles, Scrap wood and furniture, Washing machines, Screened doors, Foam packing material, Magazines, Christmas trees, Motor oil, CDS, DVDS, Game Discs.

Plastic Bags, leather bags, Phone books, Toothbrushes and Razors, Fire extinguisher, Fencing, Styrofoam containers, Leaves, Clothing hangars, Packing foams and peanuts, Grass clippings, e waste, cardboard, printer, light bulbs, PVC, waste water, steel, pallets, asphalt, antifreeze, etc.


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