How to start a recycling business in Australia

If you want to start a recycling business in Australia, there is no better time than now. Every day the number of Australians who become aware and recycle their trash is increasing. This creates a unique business opportunity for individuals who want to make money while supporting the environment. Furthermore, the Australian government is constantly creating new initiatives to promote recycling among its residents. Not only that, but the Australian government is also actively creating opportunities for businesses that are involved in recycling in any capacity, by providing grants and subsidies. Without further ado, let’s get started on this extensive guide, where I lay a step-by-step foundation in order to start a recycling business in Australia.

Research the recycling business in Australia

The first and most important phase of your recycling business is research and having a strategy. Bear in mind, you are most likely to compete with other recycling businesses in the area. Therefore, you need to perform some sort of market research to understand your competitors better. In a recycling business, unless you have a very good strategy to differentiate yourself from others, the competition can be very tough. At the end of your market and competition research, you should have a firm answer to these two questions.

  1. Is there enough demand for multiple recycling businesses in your area?
  2. Are there any valuaeble materials overlooked by your competitors?

All in all, just make sure your research provides insights that help you choose a niche market and identify what type of material you are going to focus on for your recycling business in Australia.

How much does it cost to start a recycling business in Australia?

The total startup costs required to start a recycling business in Australia depend on the materials you will be processing and the way you process them. Consider this basic breakdown of startup costs.

  1. Processing Facility = AUD2000 per month
  2. Employees = AUD4000 per week
  3. Equipment = AUD3000 to AUD5000
  4. Drop-offs = AUD1000 per unit
  5. Utilities = Depends

All in all, you are looking at anywhere from AUD10,000 to AUD15,000 for the first month in order to start a recycling business in Australia. This is a big startup capital for you to go solo. Therefore, I highly recommend finding a backer for this project. The good news is, there is no better backer than the government itself. I have included some resources on grants from the Australian government for businesses involved in recycling and waste management.

  1. New South Wales EPA(Evironment Protection Authority) Grants
  2. Victoria Materials Recycling Infrastructure Funding
  3. Queensland Waste Management Funding and Grants
  4. South Australia Recycle Infrastructure Grants
  5. Western Australia WasteSorted Grants
  6. Tasmania Recycling Modernisation Grants

Choose how you will collect the materials

Prior to starting a recycling business in Australia, you need to decide where you pick up the waste materials from. There are several routes you can go with this but I will only discuss three major routes for now.

  1. You can put bins in the busy areas, so that the people can throw their waste and you get your meterials for free.
  2. Go house to house in order to collect their waste. You can provide the service for free or charge a small amount in order to cover the fuel expenses of the truck with which you provide the service.
  3. Collaborate with businesses and offices and offer them waste management services. Offices are well known to throw papers and cardboards which are easy to recycle and reuse.

Find the buyers of your recycled products

So, once you collect the waste materials and take them to processing facilities, you get your raw materials for recycling. Prior to your recycled products being ready, you need to find the buyers. This integral part of the process will be the one that really generates the profits you need to sustain and grow your recycling business in Australia. Here are some of the potential customers for your recycled products.

  1. Businesses that sell recycled products or items made from recycled products.
  2. Offices that use recycled papers, files, clips and staples.
  3. Distributing companies that distribute their products in large chains like Woolworths, Coles and Aldi.
  4. Schools, colleges and universities.
  5. Government agencies and departments.

Ensure you’re profitable

Let’s be honest – you are doing a good deed for the environment but at the end of the day, you have to make a profit to operate the recycling business. We all like to cut costs in order to be more profitable. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a bad thing to do that. However, it’s important to keep in mind that profits may suffer from your original cost-cutting decisions.

For example, you can cut huge costs by making people come to you with their waste but individuals are far less likely to participate in a program that forces them to come to you. The type of equipment you buy or hire will also affect your profits down the line. While standard equipment may be cheaper upfront and will get the job done, electricity-saving equipment will reduce energy bills later on.

Find a place for recycling

Now that you know the startup costs and how you’re going to make your profits, it’s a perfect time to discuss the place for your recycling business. The size of the place you’ll need for your recycling business will depend on the materials you will recycle. For example, if you want to recycle paper, you can rent a small location in the suburbs. However, if you want to recycle glass, you will need a significantly bigger area of operation as it requires bigger machines and occupies more space than paper.

Contact the machinery manufacturers

The final step to start a recycling business in Australia is contacting the machine manufacturers and asking each one to quote a price for the machines needed for your recycling operation. While starting out, I highly recommend you rent the machinery because you never know if your business will go as expected. While renting or buying machinery make sure to look carefully at what conditions of sale or lease (guarantees, repairs, etc.) each supplier offers you.

For all your machinery hire needs, refer to Wastec.

Ask for help from the Australian government

As we already discussed, individuals with good business strategies looking to start recycling business are entitled to grants in many Australian states. So, before you start a recycling business locally, check with the state to see how much funding you can get. Often, you’ll be able to get free money to offset any loans required to get your business off the ground. Furthermore, the Australian government will also provide you with resources and other supports alongside the finances. Make sure to use all the help you can get from the Australian government.

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