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Recycling Business Ideas


Yes, unfortunately, our world gets polluted. And ironically this creates new business opportunities.

Today one of the most innovative areas for starting up a new business is recycling. Hundreds of new recycling business ideas, new materials and methods emerge every year.

Recycling business is a great win-win opportunity for us and the environment.

Even more, going green is a trend of today. Recycling business is the business of the future.

Recycling business is the business of the future. Click To Tweet


With all the valuable materials that get dumped into a landfill happening every day, starting up the right type of recycling business offers you a real opportunity to do something good for the environment and make a profit as well.

The only thing it takes is to come up with the best recycling business idea that you would like to work on, and well, start working on it.

Though this might be a tough task looking at the increasing number of recycling business ideas popping up almost every day because of the ongoing pollution across the world.


Related: How to Start a Business: The Ultimate Guide


Like we noted above, there are literally hundreds of recycling ideas for businesses out there. It might be overwhelming to navigate between them on your own, so that’s the reason we decided to put together this blog post.

In this article, we provide the top 15 recycling business opportunities that will help you build up your company and if done in a right way – enjoy real profits.


So, here are the best 15 recycling business ideas as of 2019:


1. Construction


This is a pretty straightforward small scale recycling business idea.

There are many different materials that can be recycled from construction waste, including metals, electrical materials, hardwood, and more. All you need to do is collect them and sell them to recycling centers or directly depending on their condition.


Recycling Business Ideas - ConstructionDifferent recyclable materials can be obtained from construction sites, including metal and plastic.


2. Cooking Oil Recycling


Cooking oil recycling is one of the easiest among recycling business ideas listed in this article.

This type of recycling takes away the impurities from used cooking oil so that it is fresh once again. By offering the clients this service, they can have their used cooking oil taken away and will purchase the recycled cooking oil from you as part of the process.


3. Electronics Recycling


The electronic recycling is another green business idea and another way to build your recycling company. Purchasing scrap electronics from devices and other sources and selling them to recyclers will offer a considerable profit margin for your business.

The types of devices that can be recycled or even refurbished are laptops, computers, mobile phones, and electronics of all types.



4. Garbage


Relatively low cost recycling business idea; You can recycle the garbage from homes and businesses, picking up their debris on a regular basis and providing bins that separate out the recyclable material. This makes it easier for businesses to recycle and for you to make money after a reasonable investment.


5. Printer Cartridges


This is another highly popular form of recycling business thanks to the price of the printer cartridges. 🙂

A simple cleaning and refilling process will provide you with a good profit while offering cheaper cartridges to businesses and corporations.


6. Scrap Gold


Certainly, one of the most profitable among the all recycling business ideas.

The good news about gold is that it is easy to melt, malleable, and does not lose its purity even when used repeatedly. Add to this that gold recycling is cheaper and better for the environment than mining and you have a real winner.


7. Tire Recycling


Recycling tires have been around since World War II. Considering all the tires that are still in landfills and other areas, recycling them is something desired by everyone.


Recycling Business Ideas - TiresTire recycling offers a great profit margin.

However, it is a dirty job and finding the right companies to work with can be problematic. Still, if you can set up a tire recycling business, the profit potential is considerable.


8. Wood Recycling


This is probably the “greenest” business idea among all green business ideas listed here. Wood historically has always been recycled. Even today, timber still can be recycled in eco-friendly ways.

On top of that, there is a solid belief among potential customers that by purchasing recycled wood, the demand for “green timber” will fall and ultimately benefit the environment.

Thus, recycled wood products with “eco-friendly” labeling have potential to boost the sales. Recyclable wood is easily obtainable through construction waste, demolished buildings and infrastructural objects, old furniture and other similar sources.


Recycling Business Ideas - WoodWood recycling is one of the oldest among recycling business ideas.
It is also relatively easy to obtain from the wide variety of places including construction and infrastructural objects.


9. Glass Recycling


The glass is 100% recyclable. Even more, glass can be recycled endlessly without any loss in quality or purity. For every ton of the recycled glass over a ton of natural resources are preserved.


Glass Recycling Infographic

Image Source: GPI
Read also: Frequently Asked Questions: Glass Recycling – Stanford University


10. Waste Collection Center


This is a simple and low cost recycling business idea.

You probably have such sites in your own community, but there are still plenty of opportunities to start your own recycling business. Your recycling plant can include a number of items from cans, paper, and bottles which you can ship to larger centers and get cash.


11. Paper Recycling Business Ideas



Did you know that approximately 79 percent of all US papermakers use some recovered paper to make new paper products such as paper-based packaging, tissue products, office paper, and newspaper?



Recycling of paper products has been around for decades. This is perhaps the most famous one among all existing recycling business ideas.

It is a simple business model that when performed efficiently may lead to a substantial income stream. This is because the paper is in high-demand and recycling helps keep the supply available.


Recycling Business Ideas - PaperThe global demand for paper is high. This creates a room for the profitable paper recycling business ideas.


It’s quite popular to save and recycle paper which is why starting up a business in preserving the supply of paper is a good idea.

Starting up a paper recycling business is easy if you do not plan setting up a recycling plant, but instead focus on supporting activities first.

You will usually need a site where people can bring their paper or some form of truck that can pick up the paper that you pick up from people.

Almost any kind of paper can be recycled.

All you need to do is collect the paper in sufficient numbers. Then take it to the recycling center and start making money.

The trick though is to collect the paper in the first place. So here are some ideas that will help you get started:


> Collection Locations


You can set up large bins for collecting newspapers and the like at shopping malls, restaurants, and other locations. Make sure that the location is popular though. It is usually where large groups of people gather.

You’ll need the bins, permission to set them up, and a vehicle that can pick them up. While this is a great way to collect paper in a passive manner, do not expect this method to be the most popular.


> Sweeping Neighborhoods


Here is where you will pick up most of your paper. People can simply store the paper in their garages or storerooms when you come by to pick it up.

By canvassing local areas, you may be able to gather up large quantities of paper on a regular basis. You can use the same truck to deliver it to the recycling plant or perhaps you can create your own.


> Creating a Recycling Center


To set up a site that recycles the paper will most likely require:

  • proper licensing from the local and state authorities (depending on your location);
  • equipment that does the recycling itself;
  • means of transporting the paper when it arrives.

You will also need to figure out what you are going to recycle the paper into so that you can make your profit from the sales.

You can create your own paper products from the materials, such as soft cardboard, plates, cups, and so forth. Then you can sell these products directly to businesses like restaurants or hotels. They usually buy and use these products in bulk.

Additionally, you can create high-quality writing or copy paper that you can sell directly to customers or businesses.

It’s your recycling business, so you can take it in whatever direction makes the most profit. The good news is that you can start small in collecting paper for other recycling centers until you make enough to create your own, fulfilling a need in your community. Plus, you are helping to save trees and making the world a little more green.




12. Packaging Material Recycling


At first glance, it may seem that recycling packaging materials is not worth the effort. However, consider that just about every single item that is shipped around the world includes some type of packaging material.

Because there are shortages of new packaging material in some parts of the world, the demand for recycled materials is greater than ever and growing every day. Growing volume of e-commerce worldwide will most likely help to keep this trend upwards.


Statistic: Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista

Retail e-commerce sales will keep rising worldwide during the coming years.
This will positively affect the demand for packaging materials.


The typical items that you want to recycle include the following;

  • Foam (Packing) Peanuts
  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Plastic Bags
  • Pallets
  • Wrapping Foam & More

You can start with packing peanuts as they are some of the easiest to collect, yet expensive to buy. A single yard bag full of packing peanuts can retail for upwards of $75. So, you can see how it can become profitable if you find the right sources.

Businesses, facilities, and warehouses are good places to start. You can take the packing peanuts and other packaging material off the hands of business owners for free or a small payment and then turn it around to make considerable cash by offering the same materials to companies that sell the products or you can sell it yourself.

If you start with packaging peanuts, you can work your way towards other materials and earn a tidy profit over time. The hard part is finding the places where you can obtain the materials. Once discovered, the rest is keeping the reusable part and throwing away the waste.


13. Electric Wire Recycling


You may be surprised at just how much electronic waste is available for recycling purposes. You can set up your business to purchase old, worthless electronic devices, peripherals, and related materials. Then you can sell them to a recycling center. However, if you can manage to recycle them yourself you can sell them directly to companies that manufacture electronic devices, gadgets, and the like.

The first step is researching sources of electronic waste, which includes residents and companies that use such devices like computers, laptops, mobile phones, and so forth.


Recycling Business Ideas - Electric Wire RecyclingMany US companies ship their e-waste to countries like China in order to avoid the disposal costs.


You’ll find that purchasing scrap or worthless electronic gadget is straightforward enough, but the complicated part is deciding whether to partner up with an established recycling plant or do the work of stripping out the unnecessary components yourself. It’s not easy work, but if you know what to look for it can be simple to separate the wanted materials from the unwanted ones.

By choosing the latter, you can make a considerable profit depending on the amount of electronic scrap you can find. The good news is that you can focus on the items that are beyond repair and therefore obtainable with little to no money. Then, you can process the scrap by removing the unwanted elements and selling the rest to manufacturing companies that use recycled materials.

This is a business that takes time to set up and get going, but the profit potential is considerable if you can maintain a steady supply of waste materials.


14. Battery Recycling


The good news about battery recycling is the overall popularity of the business which is relatively easy to start. There are numerous places in most communities that will pay for lead-acid batteries. You can get prices that pay per pound or per battery. A common price is $5 to $7 per used car battery.


Recycling Business Ideas - Battery RecyclingAround 99 million wet-cell lead-acid car batteries are manufactured each year.
Part of this number is made of recycled materials.


The beauty of this type of recycling business is the sheer number of lead-acid batteries that are currently sitting in garages, maintenance shops, businesses, and other locations for years that could be recycled.

However, the toughest part of getting started is finding the locations for such batteries which tend to be scattered about. You may want to setup a website so that residents and business owners can find you.

Lead-acid batteries are used primarily for vehicles, motorcycles, and boats. So, you will need to do some searching to find those sources in your community. You may want to post ads in traditional media sources, such as newspapers or radio to help you in your search.

Of course, you’ll also need to find locations that purchase lead-acid batteries, so you can get a good price. Over time, you can work your way up into creating a positive cash flow that leads to other forms of recycling.

Depending on how you can obtain the lead-acid batteries, you can make a considerable profit when you have eager buyers willing to pay top dollar.


15. Home Items Recycling


This is a recycling business that usually starts with your own home and finding items inside that can be resold easily. Home items include a broad category that ranges from kitchenware, bathroom, toys, garage tools and equipment, and so forth. Whatever is found in the home that is reusable can be the source of your recycling business.


Recycling Business Ideas - Home Items RecyclingHome Items Recycling is just like many other recycling business ideas. You can start it with your own home.


Launching a home items recycling business is easy and straightforward. You should start by seeing what specific items are valuable and can be resold for a small profit, then focus your efforts on finding people who want to clean out their homes of such items.

You can even charge a small fee for coming by someone’s home and taking out their unwanted items for you to recycle.

This means setting up a business where you list the items of value, so they can be separated by the homeowner and be easily sorted.

If any items are not recyclable, you can always dispose them on your way to the recycling plant or clean and sell the items yourself online or at flea markets. Keep in mind that the per-item profit will probably be small, so you will need to increase the quantity to garner a good cash flow.

At least you have plenty of homeowners who are looking to get rid of their unwanted items to choose from when you start. Whether you choose to sell to another recycling business or go into business on your own, there is a great deal of potential in choosing home items as your primary source.


Additional information on recycling business


As you already know, recycling as a business sector is a relatively new thing. There are still many questions left unanswered on all types of recycling businesses.

Below we will try to shed some light on the most frequent questions asked on recycling business and provide little more information with regards to recycling business ideas listed in this article:


How to Start Recycling Business from Home?


Starting recycling business from home may sound crazy, but the craziest thing is that it is 100% possible. More than that, people are already doing this across the globe.

Look at this:



Precious Plastic has everything for you to start your plastic recycling business from home right away.

The model of Precious Plastic can be applied to business opportunities in recycling other than plastic too.

However, starting a recycling business is not only about setting up your workspace and putting in place your production lines. Do not forget that the recycling business is still a business, thus it needs to be treated accordingly.

So, before going ahead with what Precious Plastic (or any other project) provides it can be a good idea to check the basics.

To start a recycling business from your home, the first step is to do a little research that includes the type of items you want to recycle, the amount of space you need, and any equipment necessary to do the task. Along with that you also need to know if what you recycle is really in demand in your community and what is the strength of your competition.

Moreover, your recycling business will need to follow your local laws, rules, and regulations in terms of getting a license and what can be stored on your property.

Overall, there are lots of things to do for starting a recycling business from home, but the most important thing is that it is possible. To make your journey easier refer to our extensive guide on how to start a business for the step-by-step process of starting your recycling company from home.


High Profit Recycling


There are certain materials that recycle for higher rates compared to most others. By focusing your small business on a specific item or related group of items, you can increase your profit potential considerably while sticking to a tight budget.

Some of the items that provide good profit include the following:

  • Aluminum
  • Clear glass
  • Copper, Bronze, and Brass
  • Gold
  • Electronics, Computers, & Related Devices
  • Printer Ink Cartridges
  • Oil Filtration & Recycling

Each of these items offers a high-profit potential for recycling. For example, purchasing gold from rings, electronic devices, and other sources can be quite profitable.


Recycling Business Profit Margin


For your recycling business to succeed, you will need to limit your expenses while maximizing the flow of recycled products. So, your first goal is to minimize your output which helps increase your profit margin.

Focus on high-return materials such as copper and gold which offer a considerable profit. Items like general garbage should be avoided given its low profitability.


Most Profitable Recycling Business


For those who want to keep their recycling efforts small, but highly profitable, it pays to focus on most profitable things to recycle – the items that bring in a high return rate.

Arguably the most profitable in terms of return rate and finding the materials are copper and copper alloys such as brass and bronze. Per pound, copper and its alloys bring in a sizable return. Just beware that the competition for these materials is quite high.

Other profitable materials include gold, electronic devices, and printer ink cartridges.


Recycling Options for Small Business


You have a few options when running a small recycling business in terms of making it successful. Your first choice is what material you want to focus on recycling and building your efforts around that. You can expand your business later to take advantage of other materials if they become more profitable.

Other options include limiting your search area for items, buying vehicles for large hauls, and transportation to more profitable recycling locations.


How to Start a Recycling Business?


The first step is to read our Ultimate Guide on How to Start a Business.

The second step is getting familiar with the government rules and regulations about running a recycling business.

After that, you will need to choose what types of items for recycling best fit your business parameters. Most small recycling companies focus on high-profit items such as copper and alloys of copper, gold, and electronics.

However, you can choose the items that best suit your business goals. For example, you can pick one from the list of recycling business ideas above.

Next, assess the capital needed to start your business, set a budget, and purchase what is necessary to get started.

The good news is that everything you need to be successful can be found in your community, you just need to find it.

In any case, in this guide, you will find all the necessary actions to take in order to start your own recycling business, so the general advice would be to read it and try to implement as accurately as possible.


Below are some great resources for further guidance on recycling and recycling business ideas listed above:


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