How to start a recycling business in South Africa
Closeup of hands separating plastic bottles

How to start a recycling business in South Africa

Recycling is a great way to help the environment while making money for yourself. Many entrepreneurs in this field have a level of fulfilment. This is a guide on how to start a recycling business in South Africa.

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The recycling business has some high barriers to entry, this means that you will face little competition in a country like South Africa. It is much more competitive in developed countries. A lot more people are feeling the need to take care of the environment and want to do that by recycling.

This presents a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to start a recycling business. Recycling has many compartments; you can choose to focus on a particular niche. You can either collect the waste and sell it to other companies or you can process the waste yourself. This article will focus mostly on collecting the waste and selling to other businesses, recycling the waste yourself can be very expensive.

Find the right location

The right location is very important when starting a recycling business, it doesn’t matter if your niche is scrap metals or plastic recycling or cardboard. You need to be close to your main customers and also have easy access to recyclable material. The cost of doing business will be very high if you are too far from your customers, transportation will increase the price of your goods.

Try to find factories and businesses that use a lot of recycled material and set up your business closer to them.

Set up operating premises

Your operating premises will depend on your niche. Premises are needed mostly for storage; you might need to have a big building to store all the recycled material. However, you don’t need to have a big building if you are opening a metal scrap yard. You also need to buy machinery if you are going to be recycling the materials yourself.

Register your business

Registering your business has a lot of benefits, including tax write offs and gaining credibility, big companies won’t want to work with an unregistered business. The cost of registering your business is only R175 when done through the CIPC, it usually takes a few weeks before everything is up and running.

Market your business

Collecting the waste on your own can take forever, you need to have people who bring the waste to you. After they bring the waste, you can organize it and sell it to bigger companies who will recycle it and make new products.

This means that you will pay to pay people for bringing recyclable waste to you, some might bring it because they genuinely care about the environment. But most of them will bring it because they need money. Set up advertising channels in order to attract these people; print flyers, advertise on newspapers and use word of mouth.

As for the big companies that will buy in bulk; you can talk to them directly and work on a deal with them. Tell them your prices and try to be cheaper if you have a lot of competition.

Getting funding

There are a lot of government institutions that will fund you for this type of business. This is generally seen as a good business that will have a positive effect on the environment. Securing funding should not be difficult as long as you have a solid business plan.


This was a guide on how to start a recycling business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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