How to Start a Cardboard Recycling Business

by Melissa Hopkins; Updated September 26, 2017
Recycling bin and materials

According to Cardboardrecycling.org, cardboard is the largest source of municipal waste. The good news is that cardboard recycling is a growth industry. Of course, not all cardboard can be recycled, but the types that can be recycled are plentiful. By learning how to find and recycle the right kinds of cardboard, as well as how to prepare for starting a business, you can get your cardboard recycling company off to a good start.

Step 1
Cardboard boxes ready for recycling

Know your types of cardboard. Types of cardboard that cannot be recycled include wax-coated food and fruit shipping boxes, cardboard treated with a chemical called wet strength, and chipboard, which is filled with cellulose fibers. Learn what kinds of products generally come in non-recyclable cardboard and how to recognize the different types.

Step 2
Mature woman using mobile phone, profile, close-up

Look for places to collect cardboard. According to Cardboardrecycling.org, “Over 85 percent of all products that are sold in the United States are packed in cardboard.” This gives you a multitude of options for cardboard collection. Check with large offices about how they dispose of the shipping boxes for paper and other supplies. Call likely businesses and ask managers about their cardboard waste. Possibilities for cardboard waste include grocery stores, shopping centers, libraries and universities.

Step 3
Woman working on pad at desk

Find out what your area recycling centers pay for cardboard. Call area waste management companies or check the website for your local Environmental Protection Agency to develop a complete list of cardboard recycling facilities. Keep track of the travel distance to each center to properly assess potential costs for gas mileage. Take notes on the return for each load of cardboard and compare centers to make an informed choice.

Step 4

Look into transportation options. Obviously a larger truck can carry more cardboard, but larger trucks have higher gas prices, are more expensive to insure and may even require a special license. Create a comparison list of truck sizes, the return on each cardboard load and the expenses associated with each type of vehicle. Assess the most efficient and economical choice. You can always move to a larger vehicle once you have a better idea of the operating costs for your recycling business.

Tips

  • The Small Business Administration has counselors and valuable resources to help new entrepreneurs.

About the Author

Melissa Hopkins began writing for the Southern Illinois University newspaper in 2000, where she won several awards. After completing her Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Hopkins moved to San Diego, where she worked as a stringer for various publications with the Pomerado Newspaper Group.

Photo Credits

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