Step-by-step guide to start a recycling business in South Africa

A successful recycling business is a venture that allows you to make a profit while helping the environment. It is, however, a large undertaking, and you’ll face serious competition.

By making a detailed plan, locking in financing, understanding the legal requirements, and using good business sense, you can get your recycling business up and running.

With climate change and environmental protection becoming more and more of a concern, a lot of people have started taking recycling more seriously.

As with everything else, this has resulted in a lot of recycling business opportunities in South Africa. This article helps you get started on that.

What can be recycled list

Before starting out, you should know what you will be working with in your recycling business in order to plan for things such as availability and supply in your area. These include:

  • Cardboard and paper – boxes, magazines, phonebooks, newspapers, etc.
  • Rigid plastics – these include bottles and Tupperware
  • Glass – these include drink bottles
  • Metal – these include cans, old pots, etc.

What can you not recycle?

Items that you are not advised to put in the bin include:

  • Loose plastics – these include plastic bags and plastic wraps
  • Food items – do not add spoiled foods to the bins
  • Broken glass
  • Polystyrene foam – these include egg cartons, drinking cups, and fast-food takeout containers. Basically, avoid flexible packaging material.

How do I start a recycling business?

We shall break the process of putting your recycling business plan into 3 steps. They are the following:

  • Plotting your roadmap
  • Registering with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)
  • Starting operations

Step 1: Plotting your roadmap

You need to have an image of where your recycling business ideas lead you. Here is what you need to do:

1. Identify where to focus

Look around you, find what waste materials are available, then determine which ones are not being disposed of properly. For example, if there is a company already handling paper and glass, try handling e-waste, i.e. discarded electronics.

2. Determine your budget

You need to know how much money you require or are willing to put down to start operations. This includes wages, vehicles, collection tools, etc.

3. Draw up a business plan 

This will act as your script. Include your vision, goals, costs of operation, projected earnings, etc.

4. Secure financing

After the budget and business plan, this is where you can opt to seek capital from an outside party. It could be a loan from a bank or a friend, partner, etc. You can also go through organizations dedicated to providing financing such as:

  • Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA)
  • National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)
  • Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)

Step 2: Registering with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)

This is the part where you complete the legal requirements to begin operations for your recycling business in South Africa. You can register online by clicking this link. This process allows you also to get a license, set up your tax information, apply for permits, etc.

Step 3: Starting operations

1. Secure premises

Rent or hire a physical space to serve as your base of operations. Try finding a place that is properly aerated and isolated from major settlements but still easily accessible.

2. Hire workers

You will need some people in different departments such as collection, accounting, marketing, management, etc.

3. Marketing

Spread the word about your new business to the people living around your plant. Tell them that they can safely dispose of their waste at your plant. You can use flyers, business cards, online ads, etc.

4. Get clients

Apart from single homes, you can also seek to work directly with places that have large quantities of waste such as schools, restaurants, shops, hospitals, stadiums, etc. This will allow you to have more of a steady and reliable income.

How much is scrap metal selling for?

Scrap metal prices South Africa as they are being reported right now vary per specific type of metal. They are as follows:

  • Aluminum – ZAR7.50 to ZAR20 per kilogram
  • Aluminum cans – ZAR1 to ZAR2 per can
  • Battery – ZAR15 to ZAR60 per battery
  • Brass – ZAR15 to ZAR30 per kilogram
  • Cast iron – ZAR3 to ZAR5 per kilogram
  • Copper – ZAR25 to ZAR35 per kilogram
  • Copper wire – ZAR20 to ZAR65 per kilogram
  • Iron – ZAR3 to ZAR5 per kilogram
  • Lead – ZAR7.50 to ZAR20 per kilogram
  • Mixed brass – ZAR30 to ZAR45 per kilogram
  • Mixed copper – ZAR20 to ZAR60 per kilogram
  • Mixed steel – ZAR15 to ZAR30 per kilogram
  • Stainless steel – ZAR15 to ZAR35 per kilogram

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