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How to Start a Private and Lucrative Recycling Business

Starting a recycling business is a responsible environmental decision. What’s more, it’s an opportunity to earn a good living.

One of the biggest things that prevents people from doing it is the misconception that these businesses focus only on collecting old paper, bottles, and soda cans. In reality, though, the biggest profit comes from removing gold from cell phones and computers as well as refurbishing and selling household goods.




Skills Needed to Start a Recycling Business

People who enjoy the most success in this kind of business understand where to find items to recycle. They also know the best markets to resell them. What’s more, they know and use terms associated with the business that describe it as a process. Some of these terms include:

  • Reclaim
  • Recover
  • Reprocess
  • Reuse

Households across the country generate approximately $1 trillion worth of waste every year. However, recycling a large portion of that waste results in the need to use less energy and fewer natural resources. Additionally, with each generation becoming more environmentally conscious than the last, there has never been a better time to start a recycling business.


Decide Who to Serve

Both individual neighborhoods and businesses need the services of a recycling business. The first thing for the new business owner to decide is the customer base that he or she wants to serve. For example, it could be private residences, government agencies, or public schools. It’s also a good idea to choose a niche industry, such as metal, electronics, tires, or construction waste.


Legal Matters

It’s advantageous for the new business owner to meet with an attorney and decide on a business structure. Further, it’s a good idea to file for copyright protection on the business name. The business lawyer can also advise whether to start the business from scratch or buy a franchise. Another person to meet with is a business insurance agent to decide on coverage.

Finally, obtaining certification in one or more areas related to health, safety, and recycling helps the new business owner distinguish himself or herself from the competition.


State and Small Business Grants to Start a Recycling Business

Before starting this kind of business, entrepreneurs should check with the Department of Environmental Protection or the conservation agency for their state. The most likely place to find funding with these agencies is through a business development grant. Some state grants restrict eligibility to new recycling businesses employing a limited number of people. Other states offer matching grants, which means the state will contribute the same amount as the new business owner.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers grants for new recycling businesses through a program it sponsors called the Small Business Innovative Research Program. Another idea is to apply for a federal grant.



Help to Educate the Public on Recycling

Americans throw away millions of pounds of items every year that could have been recycled. An important function of any recycling company is to provide education about recycling and then offer to pick up the items. The most common categories of recyclable items that end up in landfills include:

  • Appliances
  • Batteries
  • Carpet
  • Clothing
  • Cosmetics
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Computers and electronics
  • Crayons
  • Eyeglasses
  • Oil

Seeing these and other items get used again instead of polluting the earth in landfills makes recycling a personally rewarding career as well as a financially rewarding one.