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15 Recycling Business Ideas
Written by: Natalie Fell
Natalie is a business writer with experience in operations, HR, and training & development within the software, healthcare, and financial services sectors.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on September 8, 2023
15 Recycling Business Ideas
Recycling isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also extremely profitable, if the business is run well. With broader eco-consciousness, households and corporations alike are searching for more ways to dispose of their old items in a safe, hazard-free manner. There are also many lucrative ventures that involve turning recycled materials into brand new products.
The US recycling facilities market is worth $7.6 billion after years of strong growth.((https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/recycling-facilities-united-states/)) That growth is expected to continue at an annual rate of 5.2% through 2028, so if you’d like to make good money while giving back to the planet, now’s a great time.((https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/waste-recycling-services-market)) Check out this list of top recycling business ideas to jumpstart your next entrepreneurial adventure.
1. Tire Recycling
With so many cars on the road today, there is no shortage of drivers needing to replace their tires. Recycling tires is a profitable business idea for anyone well-networked in the automotive industry. Using a special melting process, the materials in used tires can be broken down and made into brand new tires. Tire waste is tricky, as burning tires is bad for the environment. If you start your own tire recycling business, you could help the environment and make a tidy profit.
2. Textile Recycling
Worn out, damaged clothing and fabric can still be useful – and valuable. Recycling textiles might involve breaking fabrics down into thread and reselling it as sewing materials, or upcycling old garments to create brand new clothing. If you plan on breaking textiles down into raw materials, you may need to purchase specialized equipment. Consider partnering with local clothing donation centers as your used textile supplier.
3. Glass Recycling
Broken glass can be processed and remade into pricey cookware and windshields. New processing technology is even turning recycled glass into concrete! To properly recycle glass, you’ll need to melt it down and make it malleable. Additionally, prepare to sort and separate pieces of glass prior to recycling. To obtain glass, contact your municipality’s waste department. Local restaurants with bars may also be willing to provide you with used glass bottles.
4. Scrap Metal Recycling
Depending on the material, scrap metal recycling can be a highly profitable business venture. If this idea interests you, you’ll likely need the funds to start your own plant and invest in expensive equipment to cut, melt, and repurpose scrap metal. Manufacturers who make products out of metals like aluminum and stainless steel make great customers. Aluminum is one of the most valuable scrap metals to recycle, along with high-grade copper.
5. Battery Recycling
Batteries come in all shapes and sizes and are found in everything from TV remote controls to automobiles. Recycling batteries is important, as simply throwing them away causes harm to the environment if they wind up at a landfill. If you’re interested in recycling batteries, keep in mind that they contain harmful heavy metals and toxic materials so prepare to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe. Business ideas could include reselling components like zinc plates, or charge customers to pick up and dispose of their batteries.
6. Medical Waste Recycling
Doctor’s offices, veterinary clinics, and hospitals all need to dispose of hazardous medical waste. Items like used syringes and needles need to be processed correctly, as they are a biohazard. While medical waste recycling businesses can be extremely profitable, you’ll need to invest in specialized tools and equipment to make sure the process is carried out according to strict health and safety standards. Additionally, be prepared to obtain specific state licenses.
7. Printer Cartridge Recycling
What’s worse than a printer cartridge running out of ink? Even though people are printing much less than they used to, people still depend on printers for important documents. You could start a profitable printer cartridge recycling business by refilling used cartridges with ink. It’s also possible to run this type of business out of your home. All you need are some simple tools and adequate workspace and you can start building a loyal customer base.
8. Cooking Oil Recycling
To protect plumbing and local sewer systems, many people store used cooking oil in jars and containers instead of pouring it down the drain. While many opt to throw it away, used cooking oil can be refined, distilled, and used again. Your best bet is to partner with local restaurants and commercial kitchens as they’ll be a reliable source of used oil. You could also infuse used cooking oil with flavorful herbs and spices, creating new, unique products to sell.
9. Brickmaking From Recycled Materials
With the rise of eco-friendly building practices, construction companies all over the planet are looking for innovative ways to use recycled materials. Solid waste made of materials like plastic and rubber can be compressed, hardened, and polished through a specialized process and turned into durable bricks. If you have the right equipment, you can run a profitable business creating these bricks and selling them to residential and commercial builders.
10. Plastic Recycling
Plastic is one of the most widely used materials in the world. It’s also not great for the environment, as it piles up in landfills and contributes to global warming. Running a plastic recycling business is a lucrative and environmentally responsible way to make a living. You’ll be competing with your municipality’s recycling plant and other commercial organizations, so it’s important to set yourself apart. You might create new items from recycled plastic and sell them online.
11. Furniture Recycling
While many people resell used furniture or pass it on to family and friends in need, worn and damaged furniture often winds up in the trash. If you’re crafty, you could become wildly successful running a furniture fix-and-flip business and turn used furniture into expensive statement pieces. Create a social media account and showcase your before and after photos to increase your customer base. Alternatively, your furniture recycling business could specialize in breaking down used furniture and selling the raw materials.
12. Paper Recycling
Paper makes up a huge percentage of the world’s solid waste. Paper recycling plants take used paper, run it through special processing, and turn it into new paper products. Recycling facilities offer money in exchange for used paper and paper products. You could start a profitable business by offering to pick up paper at customer sites and drop it off at a local plant. Network with businesses, print shops, and local retailers to find leads.
13. Computer Recycling
When it comes to computer recycling business ideas, you have several options. When companies go out of business or are switching over to new hardware, they often have a large amount of computers to get rid of. You could partner with these businesses to take the computers off their hands. Additionally, you could offer data destruction services to ensure private information is protected. You might also strip the old computers of valuable components and resell them.
14. E-Waste Recycling
Broken and faulty electronic devices like televisions, cell phones, microwaves, and copy machines are known as e-waste and need to be disposed of properly. Some of these products contain hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and arsenic. E-waste recycling businesses ensure items are handled with care and recycled appropriately. In terms of profitability, targeting industrial customers is probably your best bet. Consider holding a community e-waste recycling event where people can drop off unwanted items.
15. Construction Waste Recycling
Construction waste like asphalt shingles, bricks, wood, and concrete can all be recycled and resold into usable products. Metals are the most expensive type of construction waste with a high resale value. Recycled concrete is often used as a base in new road construction. Many successful construction waste recycling companies also provide dumpsters for easy disposal and removal. If you plan on processing this waste, you’ll need to invest in the equipment needed to sort materials appropriately.
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