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August 24, 2021
How to start a plastics collection business

We all know that plastics are a very important part of the everyday essentials that we use. Plastics are very valuable. It’s why we put the effort into re-using, re-purposing, and recycling to create a thriving circular economy. 

More than we have ever before, as consumers, we are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, and aware of what the products we buy are made of. Which is why, re-using, re-purposing, and recycling are creating new business opportunities, and increasing job opportunities in South Africa, and beyond. 

However, starting your own plastics collection business requires proper disposal, otherwise, it becomes an even bigger threat to our environment. Luckily, there are many ways of managing plastics, and among them is recycling. In fact, most brands that use plastic in their packaging have already advocated for recycled plastic materials. 

So, if you’re thinking of starting your own recycling business but have no idea where to even begin, here, we’ve put together a little guide to fuel your passion for re-using, re-purposing, recycling and starting your own plastic recycling business.

SO, WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING? 

First things first. Research. Before starting a plastics collection business, you will need to do research on the rules and regulations on waste management and recycling in your area, or where you’re looking to open. There are often multiple regulatory requirements that surround recycling and waste management, and often these vary depending on where you are. 

If these laws aren’t followed on waste management, you could face some legal repercussions, and they can sometimes be severe. So, it’s always worth reaching out to various environmental organisations, or polymer producers for their advice. 

The good news is that, if you make sure that you follow all the regulations, plastic recycling is not only valuable to creating a sustainable planet but is also extremely lucrative. Other initial steps to starting up a plastics collections business include applying for planning consent for any premises you plan to use and organising a license for your business start-up, and for any transport that may be required. 

IS A PLASTICS COLLECTION BUSINESS ACTUALLY PROFITABLE? 

Collecting and recycling plastic has been long known as a profitable business, and it can be very lucrative. But, because the types of recyclable materials have become so diverse, and households and businesses have become more environmentally conscious, sorting through what can and cannot be recycled has become increasingly difficult. 

The best way to collect and recycle plastics is to ensure that you have clean plastics to recycle. This however is out of your control and is up to the consumer who is recycling. So, you would need to ensure that you sort through waste to recycle. The items that cannot be recycled often can be re-used or re-purposed. To make the most profit, you will need to put time, effort and investment into the sorting process (also known as separation at source, SAS), to ensure that other debris and materials that aren’t recyclable are sorted and done manually. 

WHAT TYPE OF PLASTICS COLLECTION BUSINESS IS THE MOST PROFITABLE? 

Recycling plastic has become a vast market that offers various types of returns. There are many recycling businesses, but each of them has different levels of profitability. Because waste must first be sorted, you are then able to see which plastics are recyclable, which aren’t but can be re-used, and which can be re-purposed. It can be a lengthy and complicated process and often requires a lot of initial investment, but with effort and passion, it can be done. 

There is also always the option of outsourcing different waste management services that cover a variety of waste disposal methods like separating plastic at the source. 

HOW DO RECYCLING COMPANIES MAKE MONEY? 

This often depends on the type of material that is being recycled. Most collection and recycling businesses make money in the same two ways: recycling collection fees and the resale profits of processed recyclates. The simplest way a plastics recycling company can make money is through collecting. 

You could start your plastics collections business with companies or local authorities to manage the removal of business or household recycling plastics for an agreed price, ensuring that plastic is safely removed from the premises to be dropped off or recycled elsewhere.

Making money through plastic collection and recyclates is straightforward because the price of raw materials can fluctuate. Manufacturers look to recycled materials as a more sustainable, and usually cheaper alternative. This drives up the costs of recycled materials, making recycling businesses more profitable. 

HOW DO I START A SMALL PLASTICS COLLECTION BUSINESS?

  1. Register your business
    This is the first and most important step to open a plastics collection business. To do this, you will need to register your business name within the country you’d like to operate in, you will be given a list of documentation that you will then need to fill out so that your business can be registered. 
  2. Apply for a tax number
    To apply you will need to contact your country’s Internal Revenue Service. Your tax identification number refers to the tax number that the business will use to open bank accounts, credit accounts with vendors and when filing business tax documents. 
  3. Get finance
    Starting a plastics collection business, depending on which area you choose to focus on requires resources. Try to identify costs like rent for the location, equipment, and operational costs before you begin making profits. Contact various institutions and compare their terms and interest rates before committing. 
  4. Choose where you want to operate your business
    You will need to identify an ideal location that has the safety and space you need to operate in. 
  5. Licenses
    If you are looking to start plastic recycling manufacturing, you will need to get a license to do so. Therefore, you would need to get in contact with the municipality to find out what locations you can license and operate your new business in. 
  6. Buy what you need to start
    Once you have the paperwork and the location, purchase the equipment that you will need. This includes separators, shredders, a pre-washing system, rinsing system, dryers and more. 
  7. Transportation
    It’s important to create a plan of how you will transport these plastics. Will you collect the plastics? Have people dropping them off? How will you get these plastics safely to clients? 
  8. Advertise your new business
    Once all is in order, and you have begun operating, you will need to promote your plastics collections business to various people, and industries. Through websites, social media, flyers and other marketing communication you need to get your name out there. This also includes word-of-mouth, and even asking your municipality to offer your services to residents and plastic manufacturing companies. 

Now that you have an idea of what it takes to start your own plastics collection business, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@safripol.com for any advice. Good luck!