How to Open a Recycling Business

by Josienita Borlongan ; Updated September 26, 2017
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With the amount of garbage that people are throwing away each day, it is important to ensure that the recyclable materials are not going to the landfill but to the recycling centers. This opens up opportunities for small business owners to open and operate their own recycling center. There are certain requirements in opening up a recycling business. Each state and county may have different sets of requirements. Therefore, it is important that you also request additional information from your local government office.

Establish your business. You may want to run it as a sole proprietor, a husband and wife co-ownership, a limited liability company (LLC) or partnership. Get a business license and permit from your county. With any small business, it is important to get a permit in order to operate your recycling business.

Choose the recyclable materials to process. You can open up a recycling center for all recyclable materials, but you may want to start with recyclable paper first especially if you are just starting out and have very limited capital. Then, gradually you should be able to expand to recycle bottles, cans, computers, scrap metals, tires and other recyclable materials.

Get certified. Depending on your state's regulations, you may need to register curbside collection programs, drop-off or collection programs. It is required to get certifications for operators to be able to buy or sell CRV-labeled containers such as in the State of California.

Find a location that you will use as your processing facility. If you do not plan of doing the recycling yourself, you can just operate a location where you can let people drop off their recyclable materials that you will then take later to the main recycling centers. This location can be a small stall or warehouse located close to supermarkets and other commercial locations that will allow you to operate a recycling business. You may also open up one in your neighborhood, but check with your homeowner's association or local government to determine if they will allow you to use your home as a processing facility.

Buy or lease equipment to use. You would need a weighing scale, trucks, huge bins (one for each type of recyclable material) and office equipment to help you run your business. Bear in mind that you would also need to get your weighing scale certified which will be periodically inspected. Check with your local government office for their particular requirements.

Research the competition. If your city has plenty of recycling centers, you may want to research the type of processing they are running. You will be more profitable or be able to compete if you offer to accept a wide array of recyclable materials as opposed to concentrating only on one type. People would like to be able to go to just one location, sort of a one-stop-shop to save time and gas when transporting the recyclable materials.

Find sources of recyclable materials. Advertise your business by giving handouts or utilizing billboards and local newspaper ads.

Anticipate paying certain fees and taxes such as: business license fees, business tax certificate, federal income tax, state income tax, employee payroll taxes, weight and measures fees, property tax, other local business taxes and local permitting fees. You would also need to pay a certification fee to buy and sell CRV products. Check with your state or local government for specific requirements.


  • Research the amount of recyclable materials that go into your landfill. You may be able to get some information from your local government. This information will be valuable for you to see how feasible it is to run a recycling business. Connect with bigger recycling centers and establish partnerships with them, if possible. They may need representatives in certain locations so find out if this is an option for you.

About the Author

Josienita Borlongan is a full-time lead web systems engineer and a writer. She writes for, and various other websites. She is a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and a Cisco-certified network associate. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines.

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