How to Start a Recycling Business? – 11 Steps to Get the Desired Start

The recycling business is considered the “economic engine,” which generated more than 500,000 jobs in the USA alone and is only expected to grow daily. The recycling industry is forecasted to be at a market value of 88.1 billion USD by 2030

A market of such enormous size and is future safe will surely offer brilliant business opportunities. Moreover, with the size of waste increasing exponentially, even the governments want more and more business establishments in recycling management.

Multiple horizons can be explored in the recycling business. Paper, plastic, metal, and rubber recycling are some of the most fruitful options. 

To pursue the goal of operating a successful recycling business, be sure that you go through the article and understand the basics of it.

Let’s look at some of the current trends in the recycling industry.

  • The global waste recycling services market was worth 55.1 billion US dollars in 2020 and is valued at 60.41 billion US dollars in 2022. The market is expected to expand significantly in the coming years as consumer awareness of the environmental consequences of waste grows. The global recycling services market is expected to reach nearly 90 billion US dollars by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 4.8%between 2022 and 2030.
  • The Asia-Pacific market is expected to expand rapidly during the forecast period due to increased demand for recycled plastics as a sustainable solution to plastic waste, with a wide range of applications, including bottles, sheets, fiber, and strapping.
  • Major clothing companies, businesses, and environmental organizations have begun using plastics in their fabrics to reduce plastic pollution. In terms of quality and texture, recycled plastic clothing is identical to conventional clothing. As a result, the use of these plastics in textiles is rapidly increasing.

11 Effective Steps to Start a Recycling Business

A successful recycling business will necessitate extensive market research and implementation. But, to make things easier for you, here are the 11 effective steps to starting a recycling business.

1. Research the industry

Conduct market research to determine who your competitors are, how successful they are, and whether your area has enough volume to support another recycling business. Are there any materials that the current recycling business is ignoring? Make sure your research assists you in selecting both profitable materials and a competitive niche.

Once you’ve decided which materials your company should recycle, look into the local government and environmental protection agency. These agencies offer grants and special loans that can cover the costs of your facility, staff, electricity, equipment, transportation, storage, handling of materials, and other expenses.

As the start-up costs for a recycling business can be high in the first month, consider the low-interest loans provided by the government. Also, the incentives typically vary from one to another, so make sure to research the state where you intend to operate your recycling business.

2. Determine the associated costs

Determine the associated costs to start a recycling business

Once you have chosen your niche, you must create a budget to fund all associated operations. The budget should account for the costs of obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, a location to store and recycle the materials, pay for any employees you hire, equipment and tools needed for recycling, cash for the recyclables, and vehicles.

For instance, recycling at a facility a little outside of town will also help you save money because real estate costs fall as you get farther from a city center.

3. Create a business plan

After all the research you have done, it’s time to create a business plan, which is a formal document outlining how you will develop and operate your business. 

It will help you stay focused as you move forward with the creation of your company and will also give potential lenders the information they need to judge the viability of your project. A thorough section on each of the following subjects needs to be included in your business plan:

  • Your company’s goals
  • What waste materials would you recycle?
  • How is your business unique from its competition
  • How your business will be managed and structured
  • How will you process materials and sell products
  • How much money will you need, what will you need it for, and how much will you need to borrow

4. Choose a business structure 

Choose a business structure to start a recycling business

Choose a good business name. The name should be straightforward to read and say. 

Once you register your recycling company name, it’s time to define the business structure.

Making a business structure will define your role within the organization, which is the next step. You could opt for either sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and S corporation.

5. Get licenses and permits

The recycling sector requires several licenses. You will need to apply for a number of permits before you can start your recycling business. The following are some instances of common licenses and permits needed:

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Business license for operations
  • Environmental department’s permission
  • Business license to collect material 

6. Look for a facility

The next step is deciding where to start your recycling business. You must buy or rent a building to store, process, or sell recyclable materials. Choose a spot close to any landfills or waste management facilities but far away from residential areas. 

You need to verify with your city’s zoning commission, planning, and development department, or building division regarding the zoning rules for that area. This will help you save money on transportation while also allowing you to network with relevant authorities frequently and effectively.

7. Get the right equipment

Get the right equipment to start a recycling business

Your business’s success depends on the tools you use. Here’s a list of some of the tools you’ll need:

  • Crushers
  • Shredders
  • Baler
  • Forklift
  • Containers
  • Scales

The equipment will make up most of your initial startup costs, so do your homework and speak with business experts to identify the best equipment to purchase.

8. Get insurance for your business

Business insurance is an area that is frequently overlooked, even though it can be critical to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unanticipated events that can be disastrous to your business.

Here are some insurance options you can consider:

  • General liability
  • Equipment breakdown insurance
  • Business property
  • Professional liability

9. Hire a team of professionals

Hire a team of professionals to starting a recycling business

The next step is to assemble a team and recruit a few experts to manage the work. You will need employees to manage the register and assist customers in loading their purchases if you want to run a secondhand store. 

When collecting recyclables, employees will be required to drive the vehicles and lift large, heavy objects. You will need employees to operate your equipment if you are processing recyclables. In addition, consider hiring individuals to help with bookkeeping and marketing tasks.

10. Promote your recycling business

Promote your recycling business

For new businesses, word-of-mouth promotion is essential because it will raise client and brand awareness. You should invest in a quality website because it serves as your online presence and convince prospective clients.

Once your website is up and running, connect your social media accounts. It’s an excellent tool for business promotion because you can use social media to create engaging posts that advertise your business.

Facebook is a great platform for paid advertising because it lets you target particular demographics. Also, SEO will assist in moving your website up in relevant search results, which is essential for boosting sales. Make sure your website is optimized for calls to action. Try different combinations of text, color, size, and placement for calls to action like “Recycle Now.” Your collection of recyclable materials could significantly increase as a result.

11. Integrate a route planning software

Route planning software comes as a lifesaver for a new business. Recycling companies require heavy commercial vehicles to pick up and drop material from the recycling center. Without proper experience or tools, this job can be a demanding one. When starting a new business, you may have to devote your time and resources to multiple tasks.

Don’t make your job tougher. Make sure that you use an intelligent and effective tool, like Upper, that will help plan an optimized route and utilize the available resources to the best of their limits. 

Use Upper and Get Rid of Last-Minute Route Planning

The recycling business relies on multiple delivery fleets, so you can pick up and drop off the material. It will require hours of efficient planning to ensure that the routes are highly optimized and get your job done. Having the time, resources, or expertise to plan the routes for a new business can be challenging.

Here is how Upper takes the load off your mind. Upper comes equipped with a highly intelligent route-planning algorithm that will do this job effortlessly and rapidly. Some of the ways by which Upper can be your perfect partner are mentioned below.

Excel import

Upper comes equipped with an option to import stops into the software with just one click. This will help you identify multiple stops and will help you to improve back-office productivity. Not just that, once you have uploaded an excel sheet, you can add more stops manually or by another excel sheet.   

Route planning and optimization

Upper software’s route planning algorithm considers all the different stops the drivers will have to make while picking up the material and will design an efficient route for the same. Whether it be multiple drivers or multiple pickups, Upper effortlessly creates the route plan and takes away your stress.

One-click dispatch

Upper offers a one-click dispatch option, allowing you to send the driving schedules to all the drivers with just one click. You don’t need to personally brief them about the routes; the plan will be available at their fingertips.


Upper Route Planner

A simple-to-use route planner
that every one is talking about


Some of the recycling business ideas are:

  • Plastic recycling business
  • Paper recycling business
  • Scrap metal recycling business
  • Computer recycling business
  • Glass recycling business
  • Aluminum can recycling

Steel and aluminum are the most recycled materials in North America. Aluminum cans are the simplest items to recycle because they are 100% recyclable. Using used aluminum cans to make new ones uses 95% less energy than creating an aluminum can from scratch.

Here are the top recycling companies:

  • Waste Management(WM)
  • Republic Services(RSG)
  • Waste Connections(WCN)
  • Clean Harbors(CLH)
  • Veolia

Here is an estimate of how much money you could make per ton of materials:

  • Cardboard: $25
  • Paper: $2.50
  • PET plastic: $150
  • Aluminum: $1,325

Let’s say you recycle 15 tons of waste daily, five days a week, earning nearly $300,000 per year in your first year or two. Assuming a 40% profit margin, this equates to a profit of around $120,000. Your capacity may increase to 30 tons per day as your brand grows in popularity, and your operating hours may be extended to six days per week.

There are many types of recycling businesses, and each one has a different level of profitability, but waste paper recycling companies are the most profitable.


If you are looking to start a recycling business, you will need a proper business model and a good legal and financial understanding to stand out from the competitors. It is not easy to set up any new business, but surely with the right knowledge, market study, hard work, and effective tools, the job can get much easier. 

As the demand grows, so does the demand for raw materials and recycling centers. A recycling business can supply raw materials, refurbished and recycled goods, or can even create new products from the waste. The options are truly limitless.  

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.