The U.S. are one of the most ecologically conscious countries in the world, and, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling has been steadily increasing through the years.
The municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in 2017 was 267.8 million tons, or 4.51 pounds per person per day. Of the MSW generated, around 67 million tons were recycled and 27 million were composted.
Altogether, more than 94 million tons of MSW were recycled and composted, equivalent to a 35.2% recycling and composting rate.
On top of that, 34 million tons of MSW (12.7% of the total) were combusted with energy recovery.
While it is important to contribute to the protection of our environment, businesses dedicated to recycling and reprocessing of waste have been thriving.
Now is the best time to combine a strong ethical choice with a lucrative enterprise, and start your own Recycling Business!
The numbers are simply incredible, as the chart below clearly shows:
The principle behind a Recycling Business is very simple: Take a waste product nobody wants, process it, and turn it into something valuable that you can sell for a massive profit margin.
The beauty of recycling is that your raw materials are incredibly cheap. In some cases, people will even pay you to come and dispose of these recycling materials!
At the same time, starting a recycling business is a complex matter, many things need to be thought out before even starting, and the start up costs can be considerable. You will need:
Whichever business you do end up choosing, you’ll feel confident that you’re contributing to society in a meaningful way.
And even if the idea of your business being respected among your local community doesn't appeal to you that much, rest assured that more and more investors have started pouring money into the recycling business.
There are many different types of business you could get involved with. Some just might appeal to you more than others, but every single one of these ideas
operates under the same basic principles of a recycling business…
1) Plastic Recycling
One of the most common Recycling Businesses available is a Plastic Recycling Business. Plastic waste is easy to get hold of, and it represents your source of income.
Today, more than 94% of Americans can recycle plastic bottles locally, and more than 70% of us can recycle flexible wraps and bags at 18,000 grocery stores across the U.S.
You can also transform the plastic you have recycled into something you can resell, and that is where the major sources of income can be found:
The commodity value of waste plastic may be in excess of $300 per ton when used in processes providing high-value chemical products. As a 2019 article suggests, 'recycling isn't about the planet, it's about profit'.
A Greenpeace article has suggested that the U.S. do not have enough Plastic Recycling businesses because of China stopping its waste imports and local facilities not being nearly enough to process the incredible amount of plastic waste.
That's where your new business will come in and take advantage of the abundance of waste plastic. In 2020, you will never run out of your main source of income: you may easily obtain a government grant to set your business up!
2) Paper Recycling
Since the Chinese ban on U.S. waste import, another economy that is thriving locally is Paper Recycling.
The Pratt Industries mill in Wapakoneta, Ohio, for example, was created in October 2019 and processed 180,000 tons of mixed paper in its first year of existence.
A business deal with government offices or any big consumer of paper in your city could let you obtain your primary resource for free, and the recycling and reselling of mixed paper has the potential of skyrocketing in the 2020s.
Once you have collected the paper, you simply feed it into machines and create
paper pulp. This methodology requires a lot of water, so that’s something to keep in mind, when drafting a business plan.
Recovered paper prices boosted during COVID-19 pandemic, as can be seen in the video below.
3) PVC Recycling
PVC is manipulated with chemicals during its production, to be used as household fabric or as construction piping. The additives used in its creation and the high presence of chlorine make PVC harder to process than other plastics.
Yet, PVC plastic is the third most common type used in the U.S. bottle industry, with a 0.8% market share (behind PET plastic and polypropylene).
More than 7 billion pounds of the PVC is thrown away every year in the U.S., and only 0.1% to 3% of it is recycled. This grants investing in PVC recycling incredible margin of returns of investment!
PVC is typically used to construct pipes, tanks, and other industrial supplies, although even everyday items, like certain bottles for home detergents or window frames, or even children's toys use PVC.
To recycle PVC, you’ll need different machinery and a different strategy for
marketing and sales.
So you might decide to expand your plastic bottle recycling business to include new PVC recycling machinery. A PVC business is perfect for expanding existing recycling businesses, or as a standalone business with great profit margins.
4. Cardboard Recycling
You would think that recycling paper and recycling cardboard would be very similar in the process, but you'd be wrong!
More than with paper, cardboard first needs to be compacted by a baler, or compressor.
Having said this, the necessity to recycle cardboard is just as pressing as that for recycling paper, and the two businesses often go hand in hand. Here is why recycling cardboard is a sought out enterprise.
In 2020, 80% of products sold in United States are bundled in cardboard, and, together, cardboard and paper make up for 41% of solid waste. In the U.S., 850 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are thrown away every year.
This crazy abundance of recyclable material should make you seriously consider starting a business in Cardboard Recycling, and, while profiting, you'd also help save the 1 billion trees that each year are cut down to create enough paper and cardboard for all of the U.S.!
5) Recycling and Processing Scrap Metal
Scrap metal is possibly the most lucrative niche within the Recycling Business: the Environmental Protecion Agency has been monitoring scrap processing very closely and a 2017 study shows very interesting data.
That year, the recycling rate of all materials in appliances, including ferrous metals, was 60.3 %. Overall, the Agency estimated the recycling of ferrous metals to be 27.8 % (4.7 million tons) in 2017.
Check out this video to see how a small scrap metal recycling venture expanded to a multimillion business in the space of less than 30 years!
Of course you can expand your business to non-ferrous metals, like copper, aluminum and lead. In fact, copper and aluminum can be the materials that end up making you rich, according to the site Scrap Monster.
Steel is another winner, with the EPA calculating the recycling rate for steel cans to be 70.9 percent (1.1 million tons) in 2017. Additionally, the analysis found the recycling of approximately 420,000 tons of other steel packaging that year.
This Top 7 Most Valuable Scrap Metals updated to May 2020 can give you an idea what to go after!(source: metalmenrecycling)
6) Recycle Old Computers and E Waste
“E-waste” is basically a blanket term that covers all electronic waste items, such as
microwaves, calculators, blenders, mobile phones, tablets, and many more.
Basic facts about E-Waste in the U.S.:
E Waste recycling is clearly a profitable business: not only is it a relatively new business in which it will be easier to carve a niche for yourself, but all the precious metals involved in the construction of electric appliances make it a very lucrative enterprise!
7) Recycle Batteries
In everyday life, batteries supply power to electronics such as toys and power tools, but batteries also also work where we don't necessarily see them. For example, during a power outage, phone lines still operate while equipped with lead-acid batteries.
As the EPA informs us, 'batteries help control power fluctuations, run commuter trains, and provide back-up power for critical needs like hospitals and military operations'.
Why recycle batteries? What are the numbers?
Recyclable varieties include car batteries, inverter batteries, heavy machinery batteries, and computer batteries.
If you are willing to learn the technicalities of battery composition and recycling, you can really capitalize on this business!
Composting is the process of redirecting organic material – food scraps, leaves, branches, and yard trimmings – away from landfills and incinerators and turn it into a valuable product.
Valid composting programs have made it possible for San Francisco to reduce the amount of rubbish it sends to landfills by 80% and composts 255,500 tons of organic material each year. In Vermont, starting this year (2020), organic material needs to be composted and cannot be landfilled.
While the machineries needed to compost waste are more expensive than others, the return on investment is very quick. For every 10,000 tons of compost used annually by these businesses, 18 full-time equivalent jobs can be sustained.
There are grant funds available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service for on-farm composting sites for equipment and some infrastructure via its EQIP program (Environmental Quality Incentives Program).
9) Recycle Old Tires
The Tire and Rubber Waste Recycling Business is a very thriving industry: it is a major asset to the economy of the United States and it generates around $959 million annually.
The costs for running a tire and rubber waste recycling businesses are very high, and the initial investment is sometimes seen as daunting, but all you should aim for to begin is a standard facility in a good and easily accessible location, your business license, the required recycling machines, equipment and trucks. You are then ready to go conquer your market niche!
Here's some data about tire and rubber waste recycling:
Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled repeatedly without loss in its quality. The use of recycled glass can substitute the use of almost 95% of the materials it takes to create new glass.
Recycling glass is one of the most sought after Recycling businesses, and for a reason: recycled glass containers are always needed because glass manufacturers require high-quality recycled container glass to meet market demands for new glass containers.
It's a virtuous circle that is profitable for every entrepreneur in this niche of the recycling business!
This is how a Kansas City brewery started its own recycling plant and now takes care of the recycling in all of its urban area:
11) Recycle Wood
A wood recycling business relies on disassembling wood that has been discarded, such as old furniture, wood packaging, like crates and pallets, and other durable goods partly made of wood.
In 2017, the generation of wood in municipal solid waste was 18 million tons. This equaled 6.7% of total MSW generation that year.
EPA estimated wood pallet recycling at 3 million tons in 2017 for a 16.7% recycling rate. The total amount of wood in municipal social waste that was combusted in 2017 was 2.9 million tons. This was 8.4% of MSW burned with energy recovery.
One possibility is to shred the wood down to small pieces and create wood pulp.
With the right machinery, you can create entirely new pieces of wood from this
On the other hand, furniture made from recycled wood is actually pretty
trendy right now. People love buying sustainable, environmentally friendly
products, and recycled wood is a very attractive material for these customers.
Recycling wood combines the profits of a tried and tested business with the environmentally friendly label that every new business would want associated with its name.
12) Recycle Textiles and Fabrics
This is definitely a profitable niche: with 85% of used textiles still go to national landfills, there is a huge margin for businesses to enter the game and take their share.
Most used clothes are given to charities, and charities distribute and sell this clothing free of charge or at low prices. But 61% of reusable and recyclable textiles are exported to other countries. Why not recycle them in the U.S. and resell the recycled material?
Here are a few statistics on textile and fabrics recycling:
13) Recycle in Construction and Demolition
Even with all the damage Covid-19 has caused to the economy, 2020 has been a great year for construction so far: more houses, more shops, and more infrastructures have been built in 2020 so far than in 2019. Along with construction, though, we also create a lot of debris and waste.
Luckily, 70% of the construction and demolition (C&D) debris generated in the United States is recycled, and that avoids creating landfills of 440 acres at a waste depth of 50 feet.
Circular economy, the reuse of waste material in constructions, has allowed the U.S. economy to save on its building materials, and it's an ever expanding business that could turn out incredible profits.
More than 34% of waste in 2017 was identified as C&D waste: circular economy is providing a great opportunity for those willing to invest in it.
Reusing, redistributing and recycling building material is one of the most advantageous niches in the recycling business.
14) Plant-Based Packaging or Bioplastics
In 2020 compostable plant-based plastics have been recognized as the most viable solution to create a new circular economy that does not include disposable plastics.
In August, Molson Coors became the latest of 125 corporations (including L’Oréal, Mars, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company and Unilever) to pledge to opt out of harmful plastic packaging and work toward “100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging by 2025.”
PROS OF PLANT-BASED PLASTIC
CONS OF PLANT-BASED PLASTIC
This industry is just getting started: if you got in at this stage you could become a pioneer in a proper recycling revolution and profit accordingly.
The reduction of the impact on the environment also will assure your business government grants from municipalities wanting to get away from fossil fuels.
15) Recycle Water
In 2012, a National Academy of Sciences study discovered that U.S. cities could increase their water supply by almost 27% with recycled wastewater.
In fact, much of the tap water we consume has been recycled to some extent, and our
wastewater goes right back into the same reservoirs from which we get our
The Recycling Water Business could be the one for you, especially if you live in a coastal area, where the wastewater would be dumped in the ocean, or in dry areas, where draughts are commonplace, and recycling water could work wonders!
Entering the water recycling industry is a relatively cheap endeavor, and the returns are bound to increase over the years.
In 2017, the water recycling industry was valued more than $13 million, and that number is expected to rise to more than $32 million by the end of 2024.
Now is the right time to start-up a business in this niche.
Let’s be clear – the recycling business has always been profitable. You’re taking raw,
waste materials that are incredibly cheap and easy to source, and turning them
into highly profitable, valuable products.
The core principles of this business plan alone should be convincing enough.
Starting a business in the recycling industry, though, is also a very expensive enterprise, and you should jump in only after having considered costs, return on investments and upkeep expenses. You will also need to hire workers and recycling experts to point you in the right direction.
But if you decide to take the plunge and create a recycling business, you will be entering a new territory, with limited competition and a very high possibility of obtaining municipal and government grants, since the U.S. government has begun to invest on renewables very heavily in the past years.
So, if you’re serious about the recycling industry and you have the initial funds to back your business up, any of these business ideas could be massively profitable. There are many success stories in the youtube videos embedded in this post, and you could be the next one.
All you need to do now is pick a business plan and get started.
My Preferred Business for 2020
We can possibly agree that the benefits of recycling far outweigh the possibility of
adding to the already overwhelming volume of land mass occupied by landfills.
We all want to do our part, and it’s clear that there are multiple ways that you can
make a profit out of stepping in to do your fair share of helping out.
After all, entrepreneurship is about being able to fill a need or void in the
Personally speaking, the business model I keep going back to is local lead generation, because I wanted out of my corporate 9 to 5 and $35,000 per annum salary, and I knew lead gen could give me that.
The cheap buy-in price for the course (compared to recycling businesses) and the opportunity to generate passive income, is what sold it to me, and it's been the best decision I've ever made.
When I started my lead gen business it only took me six months to be making $6000 a month, whereas with my previous job I was only netting $2,200 dollars.
So, if you are interested in starting your recycling business, but lack the funds for the moment being, you should consider enrolling in the lead gen course and amass the capital you need in a relatively short amount of time!