A business model based on or around recycling can be started with little capital as the product is essentially waste and can be acquired for cheap or even free. You might be thinking “this is not really something that I like”. But if you have no capital you might not have a choice: no bank is going to lend you money when you don’t have existing income or assets to put up as collateral. A recycling business allows you to start something with very little or even nothing allowing you to build a business so that you can prove the ability to pay back any money that you will require in future to expand your business.

Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about. But beware the less capital you have the harder you are going to have to work to start and grow your business.

You have a business idea, it’s not really recycling related, but you don’t have any money to start your “main” idea either. Let’s say you want to start a hot foil stamping company to enter the lucrative executive branding market.

Hot foil stamping machine, die and foil

Hot foil stamping machine, die and foil

You don’t have money for one single machine; let’s say you need R5000 for a desktop machine. So you start further downstream by processing leather offcuts for other hot foil printers. What do you need? A hollow punch and leather offcuts which is not free in SA, but because you will need small sizes you can buy the cheaper “craft” lots. Now you take that hollow punch and you process the leather offcuts into leather circles which is then sold to the existing hot foil stamping companies.

With a 50mm punch you can produce leather keyrings and with a larger cutting template can produce “cord tacos” this is used for branding purposes, it takes a few seconds to produce and is often purchased in large quantities. You can also cut the leather into rectangles with a steel ruler and a blade for use in swing tags in the fashion industry and novelty business cards.  Yes you can make other things with leather offcuts that return larger margins (wallets, belts etc.) but it’s more time consuming.

Leather keyrings

Leather keyrings

Leather tacos and other stuff (yes its just pieces of leather with press studs)

Leather tacos and other stuff (yes its just pieces of leather with press studs)

Is making these leather circles and rectangles fun? No it’s not, it’s a chore, it’s monotonous but it’s a start.

Now with your extra money you can buy a foil stamping machine, now you are one step above even the people you were supplying, you already have a supply of leather circles, at cheaper rates than your competitors. You can then make a profit from the leather circle and from the finished product, allowing you to buy more machines or to automate some of the process by buying industrial machines.

This is one example, a hollow punch is not expensive, and leather offcuts is a waste product that can be purchased cheaply by the kilogram. Your startup cost is low but its hard work.

Here are the recycling business ideas we covered in 2017:
Collect and Recycle Tins and Cans
Make and Sell Drinking Glasses Made From Bottles
Make and Sell Leather Cord / String / Rope
Recycle and Sell Laptop Batteries
Collect and Recycle Aluminum
Recycle Plastic Bottles Into Rope That Can Be Resold
Tyre Recycling
Start a Rubble Removal Service