waste management truck

How to Start a Waste Management Business: Step-By-Step Guide

Have you ever thought about starting your own waste management business?

It’s a great way to make money and help the environment at the same time. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about starting a waste management business. 

Today, entrepreneurs are going into the industry and helping to create a positive societal outcome.

Tons of waste is generated in the country daily. Disposed waste is a conglomerate form of both organic and non-organic waste. Separating recyclable waste from the lot is a daunting job for a layman. However, new waste management firms are now effortlessly eliminating and recycling waste disposal. It is a good deed and a business to use tons of waste to turn it into a usable commodity. Similar to increasing waste, revenue in the waste management industry is also rising. As a result, insistent entrepreneurs are opting into the business and creating a positive societal outcome.

In essence, the waste management industry has a wide range of development opportunities. Aspiring entrepreneurs should also prepare a waste management business in the offing. Like other firms, the waste management business also has its challenges.

The entrepreneur must consider these pillars to construct a fortified structure.

What kind of industry is waste management?

The waste management and remediation services sub-sector is part of the administrative waste management and remediation services sector. Businesses in the Waste Management and Remediation Services Subsector establishments are involved in the collection, treatment, and disposal of waste materials.

How do I start a waste management business?

waste management

1. Choose a sector in the waste management industry

Before starting a business, you should choose a niche where you want to specialize. Essentially, the waste management sector is broad and involves both small and large corporations. So, it can be trickery for you to pick a niche. To simplify the issue, you should consider various elements, such as the budget, individual capacity, and business complexity. Every niche in the industry needs different means and modes of waste recycling.

Food waste management


This is the management of waste from grocery stores, restaurants, and other food businesses.

Electronic waste management

old cell phones

Damaged and defective electronic devices need to be properly disposed of from homes and establishments. Electronic waste recycling is a growing trend as there is a serious need to protect human and environmental health. Electronic waste has a very strong impact on the atmosphere. The rise in electronic waste has contributed to recycling electronic waste on a broader scale.

The demand for electronic waste recycling has been subdivided based on processed materials and equipment sources processed. The components of processed materials consist of plastic, batteries, glass, hard drives, mercury, metals, printed circuit boards, etc.

Construction waste management

Removal of waste material from construction regularly is mandatory to keep the working area clean and safe. Debris from construction, demolition, and reconstruction needs to be properly managed.

Medical waste management

Health facilities need strict adherence to the disposal of waste to avoid the spread of pathogens. Biomedical waste encompasses all wastes used in the healthcare sector, such as syringes, unused bandages, packaging, infusion kits, etc.)

Industrial/commercial waste management

commercial warehouse waste

From manufacturing facilities to office buildings and other commercial institutions, the need for proper disposal of waste is profound.

Green waste management

Green waste refers to natural objects such as leaves, grasses, and others that need proper disposal. In addition to farms, government agencies often need green waste management staff to keep the nation safe.

Animal waste management

Management of animal waste is mandatory for raising large farms, cattle, and other livestock and rearing chicken. This includes constant collection and disposal of waste to boost the optimum productivity of these farms.

Hazardous waste management

waste management truck

Hazardous waste will easily cause damage to everyone else if it is not disposed of properly. That involves radioactive waste and waste from experimental experiments. This is one of the fields projected to have a fast growth rate in the coming years.

Choose one that has the greatest potential for development when choosing between these groups. After your decision, make sure to read about that particular category’s regulations to prevent unfavorable legislation.

Apart from this waste management sector, there are also different categories. If you study the industry more closely, you will stumble across waste management corporations.

Plastic waste recycling plant

Waste is now a universal challenge and needs to be solved to tackle the world’s resource and energy difficulties. Plastics are made from scarce resources such as petroleum, for example, and major advances are being made in the growth of technologies for plastic waste disposal, among other resources.

2. Monetary investment needed in the establishment of the business

cash flow

There are many things to plan, implement, and put into action to start the waste management business. Some of the criteria include location, staff, transport vehicles, machinery, business insurance, and business promotion.

Seek adequate funding before starting

The waste management business is very capital-intensive, particularly with the initial capital. You’ll also be dealing with government agencies and big institutions, some of which can take a long time to pay for the job you’ve already done.

To mitigate going out of business, have capital amortization that allows you to go far on your capital for a few months. The good news is that businesses pay huge amounts of money and still pay for a job done well.

Utilize emerging technologies

Waste management can sound like a manual process, but technology integration saves costs and improves performance. For example, you can use fleet management applications to track your vehicles. You can also use cost management apps to keep running costs low for yourself and your clients. And of course, a recurring billing software for your waste management business. You can start your free trial with us.

Consider your equipment needs

If you’ve got a truck, you’re going to need thick straps to protect the garbage. If you have hand trucks, you will find that they are indispensable because they allow you to move a few hundred pounds at once. Constructor buys a ramp that stretches from the ground to the back of your vehicle, allowing you to roll items up with your handcart or bring them up more easily. Collect a couple of old blankets so you can wrap delicate objects in them. And don’t forget to pack the tape to tie up your bundles. Keep a regular toolkit in your truck in case you need to disassemble something.

Concentrate on recycling


Many existing waste management businesses concentrate on the collection and disposal of waste. However, there is development in the recycling field.

Recycling not only protects the environment it also helps companies save on their running costs. If your waste management firm can recycle waste effectively, there will be no shortage of clients willing to spend working with you.

3. Carry out market research


Before entering the market, you should have a vague understanding of how the market is going, how prospective rivals are, and what their pricing is. Collate this information and then compare it with your expenses. In exchange, you’ll get an estimated idea of the revenue you’d be receiving. If there is too much competition in a specific niche, consider redirecting the course and setting up a business in another sector. Take a close look at various forms of business and, accordingly, concentrate on a particular business.

Following this, you can check if the market is wide enough for your sustenance. To do this, investigate the local junk disposal industry and speak to the entrepreneurs who run the business in different cities. Local entrepreneurs do not share information about the business because of the fear of having more rivals. Also, check the sites from which you will be extracting the waste, such as landfills, junk haulers, and scrap dealers.

4. Create a business outline


Designing a business plan is an important aspect of any project. In the outline, express your intention to start a business, your competition, why your business is unique, and what the business functionality is. After that, settle on the pricing model, the business plan, the expense of starting up a business, and, ultimately, generate revenue for the business.

The procedure referred to above is a comprehensive step-by-step guide. Follow these steps to get the waste management business started.

5. Get the proper permits

Every state and county enacts its own rules and regulations for waste collection businesses. Seek advice from the agencies responsible for disposal and recycling in your county and state to ascertain what permits you will need and how much they will cost. For example, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina allows waste disposal companies to receive commercial transport company licenses from the county. Those permit applications charge $30 per vehicle for the first nine vehicles and $20 per vehicle for every additional vehicle.

Your state is likely to assess your facilities, equipment, and proposed methods of operation. Consult your state and country for laws concerning legal dumping procedures.

6. Establish an online presence

You do need a website right away, and social media is really important. Starting a Facebook page under your name is another way for people to find and recruit you. Be confident that your clients will recommend you, for virtual word of mouth is invaluable. And don’t forget SEO. Majority of your customers will be looking online for their needs, hire a local SEO expert so you can stay competitive.

7. Business cards

business card

Have a lot of business cards on you every time. Give some of them to clients to give to friends and relatives. Keep some of them in your business vehicle. And you could even consider using them as a coupon—”Show this card to get 15 percent off the pickup! ”

The average cost for this service is about $200 per waste pickup. This means that with enough effort to get a word out about your new business – and depending on your location – you might potentially have an average of a few thousand or even tens of thousand dollars a week. It’s a messy job, but someone has to do it – so why don’t you make that money.

8. Stay flexible at all times

Flexibility helps you to take advantage of new opportunities in the industry. Keep an eye on the new changes in legislation and trends. For instance, if your sector is growing, you need to take full advantage of the potential opportunities.

Flexibility would also allow you to avoid major setbacks in the industry. An example is when the fuel cost goes up, and you cannot function as you didn’t expect this to happen before.

This is an industry that depends heavily on the flow of information. Several other industries influence it. Keeping tabs on all of them is going to save your business.

With these aspects, you can start and thrive in your waste management business. The main consideration here is to be continually updated because lack of information is one of the main causes of failure in this field.

9. Improve the image of the brand

Today, customers are increasingly vigilant about the waste practices of any business.

With this in mind, maybe one of the less visible advantages of waste management is the potential to please consumers by enhancing brand awareness. Of course, it is much easier for multinational companies, such as Apple or Google, to command front-page headlines daily, but even the smallest businesses can make a difference.

Donating outdated technology to local charities, donating unsold clothes to charity last season, and even delivering free meals using food meant for landfill—all these ideas would go some way to enthralling you to clients and customers. A simple dedication to eco-principles and sustainability can be just as effective, effectively aligning your company with more ethical practice and providing greater accountability to your consumer base.

10. Remain compliant

As the world’s waste problem has risen and awareness of the issue has increased, policymakers have been forced to respond. The position of your company will play a large part in how much our next argument affects you. Still, there is no denying that legislation on business waste is becoming increasingly tight. The recent increase in U.S. states banning plastic straws is only one example of how legislation can impact the industry and shows how easily perceptions and policies can change.

Your business must meet and comply with local, national, and even global regulations and laws today.

Failure to comply with these requirements can mean penalties or even revoking the essential licenses needed to operate. Besides, these types of regulations are expected to increase over the coming years, especially as governments have a greater say in how society handles its waste as a whole.

However, by incorporating a comprehensive and adaptive waste management strategy, not only can you easily fulfill the goals needed by legislation, but you can also take advantage of any available grants or benefits that might be available to companies that meet the best practice frameworks. The benefits of waste management here are obvious, remain compliant or risk of losing your business.

Is waste management a lucrative venture?


Apart from imbibing cleanliness, setting up waste management will also help to regulate waste. In addition to making positive impacts in society, good revenue from waste management can be received. A large amount of capital is not needed to initiate a waste management sector. Moderate savings would be enough to kick-start the company.

How much do waste management companies make?

There’s a gold mine in your backyard—more precisely, in your garbage.

Believe it or not, waste management is a global $1.4 trillion business. U.S. waste management firms account for almost $100 billion in annual sales.

And in your trash, the cream goes up to the tip. Two companies dominate the industry—Waste Management and Republic Services—while only eight companies account for around 50 percent of the industry’s annual sales in the U.S. But this concentration at the top does not tell the entire story. Much of the $100 billion in U.S. waste management earnings come from waste collection, accounting for about 55% of the total. Waste disposal, treatment, and recycling account for the remaining 45%.

Who are the waste management competitors?

Who are the big waste firms, and how do they stack up against each other?

Company Market Cap (in millions) Revenue, LTM (in millions) Free Cash Flow, LTM (in millions) Owned / Operated Active Landfills CAPS Rating
Republic Services (NYSE: RSG) $10,886 $8,096 $341.9 192 ***
Waste Management (NYSE: WM) $15,244 $11,916 $1,230 273 *****
Stericycle (Nasdaq: SRCL) $4,930 $1,236 $237.7 6 **
Waste Connections (NYSE: WCN) $2,730 $1,236 $187.7 43 *****
Waste Services (Nasdaq: WSII) $533 $458 $37.0 7 **
Clean Harbors (NYSE: CLH) $1,658 $1,223 $18.3 9 ***
Casella Waste Systems (Nasdaq: CWST) $107 $511 $27.3 10 *

Data from the Motley Fool CAPS database and Capital I.Q., a division of Standard & Poor’s.

It’s essential to keep records of revenue, but free cash flow gives a much better understanding of what a company is doing with that revenue — and if they will have the funds to invest in the business in the future. Companies who don’t own or run their landfill sites have to pay what are termed “tipping fees” to add to the landfill — which implies that companies who have their own have a built-in advantage.