How to start an Eco-friendly recycling business: 15+ business ideas

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: June 5, 2021
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Want to start an Eco-friendly recycling business that cares about the earth? 

Are you someone interested in sustainably making money? 

Then this article about the eco-friendly recycling business is for you!

Despite what many people think, recycling is not a new concept. 

It has been around for centuries!

These businesses take old products and give them new life by turning them into something new. 

They also help reduce waste in landfills and promote sustainability.

However, starting your own eco-friendly recycling business may seem like a daunting task when you don’t know where to begin. 

Read on to know the steps of starting your own green and eco-friendly recycling company. 

Plus get to know 15+ green recycling business ideas you can use.

A Recycling business: What is it?

First off: Recycling means the processing of used materials into new products.

Recycling businesses take the old or unused items and turn them into something that can be used. 

They also encourage sustainability by reducing waste in landfills and preserving natural resources.

Some recycling companies are for-profit businesses, while others that recycle hazardous wastes may be funded through local government subsidies.

How does eco-friendly recycling work?

The eco-friendly recyclers take post-consumer goods, such as scrap paper or glass bottles. 

They process these materials at their facilities. 

Then the reprocessed materials are sold to manufacturers as raw material. 

These are used in other products like carpets, cardboard boxes, plastic cups, etc.

Some of these recycled products like paper can also be sold directly to the public.

Steps to start an eco-friendly recycling business

Here are the steps involved in starting an eco-friendly recycling business.

Step 1: Choose what to recycle.

Recycling businesses typically focus on one type of product, like paper or plastic.

Some recycling companies also specialize in a particular group of products. 

E.g. textiles, electronics, hazardous waste, and construction materials.

So, your first step is to choose what you will be recycling. 

This helps you narrow down and plan your business model. 

It depends on various factors like

  • What you are passionate about recycling.
  • Your location
  • Market demand
  • Competition
  • Feasibility of recycling that material

Step 2: Fix your budget.

The second step in starting an eco-friendly recycling business is to fix your budget. 

There are many options and costs involved when it comes to building a recycling facility, such as

  • Location of the premises
  • Size of the place (more extensive facilities can house more equipment)
  • Construction cost
  • Equipment needed for recycling processes
  • Labor cost

Deciding on your budget can help you decide on these factors as well. 

This makes your business planning easy. Also, it can help you arrange for capital to invest & cover your operating costs.

Step 3: Devise a business plan.

Unlike regular businesses, a green recycling venture needs careful planning and analysis at the initial stage itself.

It would help if you defined what you expect from your eco-friendly recycling business.

For this, you must list out the process involved and the systems you need to implement. 

This depends on the material or the product you are recycling,  

A typical business plan can have the following details-

  • Details of resources needed for a recycling unit
  • Estimated cost & capital requirement
  • Steps to arrange the capital
  • Pricing for profit
  • Return on investment
  • Marketing strategies
  • Plan to keep a check on the eco-friendliness of the project
Recycling BUSINESS

Step 4: Take care of legalities

One other important task is to take care of the legalities related to starting an eco-friendly recycling business.

If you are running a brick-and-mortar operation, get all necessary licenses and permits from your local government authorities before setting up operations.

In a recycling business, there are a lot of legal procedures involved. Make sure not to skip the important ones. 

For example – The National Association for PET Container Resources (NAPCOR) requires that each recycler has an EPA ID Number or NRCS number to purchase containers from them at bulk prices. 

Steps involved in registering your business will depend on what type of recycling venture you’re into!

Step 5: Setting up business premises

Your business processes differ based on the type of materials you are planning to recycle.

You must plan to build, rent or lease buildings & other facilities concerning your business requirements.

Choose a location for your recycling plant with proper facilities for processing, storing, disposing of & selling.

Below are some of the significant aspects that you need to consider when choosing an appropriate site for your recycling plant.

  • Is there enough space?
  • Will it be close to a source of recyclables?
  • Does the zoning law allow your production & storage activities at the location you chose? What are the procedures to handle hazardous waste, if any?
  • Are utilities available such as water supply, electricity, etc.?

When arranging recycling facilities, the most important thing to note is finding ways to minimize public contact with recyclables! 

Make sure to consult experts on how to handle these things.

Step 6: Market your business.

The competition in the recycling industry had grown multifold. 

Innovative marketing strategies are needed to stand out from the crowd.

Both local marketing & online marketing is essential to reach out to potential clients.

Here are a few tips for integrating both marketing strategies for your business:

  • Advertise on local TV stations
  • Place flyers in public places such as libraries, laundromats & gyms
  • Distribute brochures about recycling services and products available. 

To get more exposure online; consider the following tactics:

  • Build a website that is appealing and informative
  • Connect with your audience through social media
  • Educate people about the importance of eco-friendly recycling on various platforms
  • Try paid advertising on online platforms
Recycling pLANT

Best practices for an eco-friendly recycling plant

The eco-friendliness of your recycling process depends on how well you handle the raw materials and waste produced.

The following best practices will help ensure eco-friendliness:

  • When handling recyclables, wear gloves and a mask to avoid any contact with waste.
  • Store recycled materials in airtight containers. If not taken care of, these loose materials might blow away or collect dirt.
  • Protect workers’ health by providing masks, gloves, boots, long pants, and aprons when sorting metal scraps.
  • Eliminate usage of toxic materials like mercury, lead, and cadmium for recycling purposes
  • Don’t recycle hazardous materials such as aerosol cans.
  • Store chemicals in a controlled environment away from the public. Keep closed containers on pallets to don’t leach into the ground or contaminate stormwater runoff with toxic substances. Remember to put up appropriate warning signs around such areas. This can help people know of potential hazards like chemical exposure.
  • Keep records of what is being recycled at all times. Record weight and do volume measurements every time material enters its facility. This will help you track waste efficiently over time.

Benefits of running a green recycling company

It’s no wonder recycling is one of the best ways to save our environment. 

Not only does recycling help conserve natural resources, but it also helps bolster the economy. 

Here are some of its benefits:

  • It’s green. Recycling is a great way to be eco-conscious and sustainable.
  • The government subsidizes this industry by providing tax incentives for companies that recycle or buy recycled goods. These programs have provided $14 billion in savings over the past decade!
  • You’ll save money on utilities. You won’t need as much energy to produce new products such as plastic bottles or aluminum cans. You can also use less water with recyclable paper towels than disposable ones.
  • Your business will be more profitable. It’s because the demand for recycled products is higher than ever.

Challenges faced by eco-friendly recycling companies

It is starting a recycling business that is also eco-friendly has so many benefits. 

At the same time, there are also challenges to face. Here are some of the difficulties you may have:

  • There is a lack of public education about recycling which creates obstacles for your business growth.
  • It’s hard to find a location for your business. If you’re looking to be eco-friendly, it might not make sense to set up a shop in an area where proper waste management & other facilities are not available.
  • You’ll need more start-up money than traditional businesses. This is primarily because of the expensive equipment required for this industry. Recycling requires large machinery such as conveyor belts and magnets used to separate materials. These can cost tens of thousands of dollars each. Thus, the upfront investment can be quite expensive than regular businesses.
  • There are also permits required if hazardous waste handling is involved. It includes things like burning plastics or lead-acid batteries for battery reclamation. These permits can be challenging to get as well as costly.

15+ Eco-Friendly Recycling Business Ideas

The recycling industry opens up so many opportunities to start a business. 

Here are a few such eco-friendly recycling business ideas that have good market demand.

  1. Aluminium can recycling: 

Used aluminum cans are recycled to make beverage cans.

2. Electronic recycling: 

E-waste such as old computers is recycled to reclaim the metal and other material.

2. Cigarette butt recycling: 

These have a high demand for making new plastic products like bottles, caps, etc.

3. Scrap metals recycling: 

Scrap metals such as steel, copper, or aluminum are recycled to make new products out of them.

4. Construction waste recycling: 

Construction waste such as bricks, concrete is recycled to make new products.

5. Textiles recycling: 

Used clothes can be reused for different purposes like making various types of rags, cloths or providing insulation in building construction.

6. Food scraps recycling: 

Food scraps from the kitchen and hospitals are put into anaerobic digesters, which break down organic material used as fertilizer.

7. Batteries recycling: 

Batteries contain lead-acid batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, etc.; these can be processed to create other materials like metals.

8. Paint recycling: 

Paint drop-offs provide a way for consumers to dispose of their leftover paints. 

Paint recyclers will take care of disposing of the paints in eco-friendly ways. 

They also sort out high-quality latex paint and recycle them to be used as paint again.

9. Rubber recycling: 

Scrap rubber can be processed to create new products like tires and fuel.

10. Paper recycling: 

The process paper waste into recycled cardboard, tissues, and toilet tissue. 

These end products are then sold back on the market for reuse.

11. Plastic recycling: 

Used & scrap plastic can be reprocessed to create new products like grocery bags, produce crates, and recycling bins.

12. Wood recycling: 

Wood scraps from chopped-up trees and branches during the logging process are collected.

Such used & scrap wood can be processed to make paper pulp again. 

13. Glass Recycling : 

Glass is broken down by turning them into the sand at high temperatures. 

Then they become reusable raw materials as well as recycled glass tiles, which are a popular material in some eco-friendly homes toda

14. Wastewater recycling: 

Wastewater is recycled back into drinking water. 

This can be done by processing wastewater to remove the solids and contamination.

15. Organic recycling: 

Organic waste can be composted, which will release valuable nutrients. 

This can be used by other living things or turned into methane gas that produces electricity, heat, and bio-fuel.

To sum it up,

Recycling is a fantastic way to reduce the waste we have in our landfills and protect Mother Earth.

As it turns out, recycling isn’t just about making new materials from old ones. 

Recycling has become an essential part of being eco-friendly. 

It conserves energy and resources as well as limits pollution caused by mining raw materials.

With a lot of scope in this recycling industry, it’s up to you to decide what type of business you want to open up your doors with.

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