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Look no further than waste management if you’re looking for a growing industry. Americans produce a lot of trash, and as the population increases, so do the mountains of garbage that must be dragged away, gotten rid of, or recycled. Establishing a waste management business can be extremely profitable, but it also presents some unique challenges.
The definition of waste
According to the EC Waste Framework Directive, waste is “any object or substance that the holder discards, intends to discard, or is required to discard.” Businesses that handle ‘waste’ must follow specific legislation to ensure that it is stored safely, processed, and treated.
Within the broad definition, various types of waste are included.
Controlled waste is governed by legislation, which implies that anybody storing, processing, transporting, or disposing of it must adhere to strict guidelines. Controlled waste encompasses all types of waste, including household, industrial, and commercial waste:
- Household waste includes waste from living spaces such as houses, caravans, and houseboats and waste from schools, colleges, hospitals, universities, prisons, and residential or nursing homes.
- industrial waste is generated in factories, public transportation facilities, and facilities that provide gas, electricity, water, sewerage, postal, or telecommunications services.
- commercial waste comes from places of business, trade, sport, recreation, or entertainment.
Controlled waste falls into several categories, some of which are as follows:
- demolition and construction waste
- waste from packaging
- discarded electrical and electronic equipment
- oily waste and vehicle waste
- healthcare and associated waste, as well as clinical waste and ‘offensive’ non-clinical waste
In some cases, waste from any of the categories mentioned above can be classified as hazardous waste.
Sewage sludge disposed of in landfills and incineration is controlled waste (but does not include waste from quarries, mines, or agricultural premises).
Materials that can be recycled
Some wastes, including some controlled wastes, are inadvertently recyclable and valuable if properly sorted and handled. There are targets in place to encourage more waste products to be recycled. Certain materials, like scrap metal, can occasionally be declassified as waste if properly recycled (which implies that waste regulations no longer apply to them).
Hazardous wastes (also known as special wastes’ in Scotland and Northern Ireland) are classified as controlled waste under the Hazardous Waste Regulations. They are waste products that have hazardous characteristics or contain a harmful chemical in a quantity that could harm people or the environment if treated, handled, or disposed of incorrectly. They could be flammable, irritating, toxic, hazardous, carcinogenic, or corrosive. There are specific rules for storing, transporting, and disposing of hazardous waste.
Keep in mind that no matter what type of waste you collect, you can only dispose of it at a facility authorized to accept that type of waste. There will be a fee, which will vary based on the quantity and nature of the waste you are depositing – it will be much higher for hazardous waste than for materials like building rubble or garden waste. Remember to factor in this fee when determining how much to charge your customers to remove their waste.
A Developing Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, waste management, defined as “the gathering, treatment, and disposal of waste materials,” has grown at a 2.5 percent annual rate since 2000. When you think of waste management, the first thing that comes to mind is probably trash collectors carting away residential garbage. However, there are numerous other opportunities available in this industry:
- Medical waste management: Healthcare is a thriving industry, and strict regulations regarding medical waste disposal make this a promising area for entrepreneurs to expand into.
- Food waste management: Restaurants and supermarkets must dispose of food waste safely and efficiently.
- Commercial/industrial waste management: Manufacturing plants, office buildings, and other commercial businesses generate enormous amounts of waste that must be disposed of.
- E-waste: There is an increasing demand for the secure and safe disposal of used electronic gadgets.
- Green waste: Natural waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and tree branches must be disposed of in a specific manner.
- Construction waste: As new construction increases, so do waste management companies’ opportunities to haul away waste at the end of every day.
- Hazardous waste management: is expected to grow at a 6.6 percent annual rate through 2022, according to Credence Research.
- Plastic Recycling: Because plastic is a non-biodegradable material, it can be recycled. It can be melted down and reshaped into various shapes. At the moment, massive products come in plastic wrappings that are later discarded.
- Rubber Recycling: Rubber, like plastic, is a highly sought-after product on the market. Rubber is primarily used to manufacture railway equipment, plastic products, and a variety of other items.
- Oil Spill Cleanup: Oil spillage occurs in oil extraction areas while the oil is extracted. Companies involved in oil mining necessitate oil spill cleaning services.
- Animal Waste Management: Animal waste management is required for large farms that raise chickens, cattle, and other animals. This necessitates continuous waste collection and disposal to maximize output on these farms.
Growing a Waste Management Company
1. Become a specialist
One key to growing a waste management company is to focus on a specific niche, such as those mentioned above. Because waste management is a highly regulated industry, providing various client services is extremely complex and expensive. Instead, concentrate on a single market and become an expert in that field.
Another way to expand is to provide environmentally friendly services. Businesses and municipalities strive to reduce their environmental footprints by reducing and recycling waste. In 2014, over 89 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were recycled, accounting for 34.6 percent of all MSW produced. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows potential clients how a “reduce/reuse/recycle” waste management approach can help them comply with regulations, save money, benefit the environment, improve their image, or all of the above. You’ll have an edge over your competition.
3. Make use of technology
Technology is revolutionizing the waste management industry, from software to help you manage and maintain your truck fleet, automated recurring invoice software to GPS tools to plan the most efficient routes to self-driving trucks, which are currently in development. Growing a waste management business requires staying current and implementing the right technology.
4. Keep costs under control
The waste management industry is price-driven, but it is also subject to sudden changes that can significantly impact costs. Because anything from fuel shortages to regulatory changes can eat into your profit margins, it’s critical to keep an eye on operating costs. For example, instead of or in addition to full-time employees, consider using contract drivers who do not require benefits.
5. Keep an eye out for trends and opportunities.
A waste management company owner must stay current on economic trends and government regulations. Growth in construction or infrastructure projects, for example, would increase demand for industrial and construction waste management. Changes in regulations can open up new opportunities for your company—or shrink the market for your services. Be adaptable and ready to shift your focus as the market dictates.
6. Be sufficiently funded
It takes a lot of money to start and grow a waste management company. Working with commercial and government clients can entail lengthy payment delays. Plan your finances carefully and keep a close eye on your cash flow. Prepare a backup plan in case you need money quickly.
“One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure,” as the saying goes. Growing a waste management business with the right approach will truly turn trash into treasure.
7. Form alliances with potential customers.
Increase your company’s visibility by spreading the word about what your waste management business can do. Lucrative agreements with local businesses, as well as ongoing service to repeat customers, can help your business maintain consistent revenue. When you can find consistent customers, you can help your business grow and become more sustainable.
8. Consult with experts in the secondhand retail industry.
Do you know who is frequently disposed of assorted garbage? Thrift shops. Many of them take donations, and some of the stuff they receive are unwanted waste. People also turn up at these stores with items that the retailers cannot accept and, in some cases, abandon their stuff somewhere close.
This behavior opens the door to a new opportunity. Even if the thrift store doesn’t have the funds to hire you, they’d probably appreciate a few business cards to hand out to potential donors who want to donate something unsaleable to the shop. If they receive a large number of unwanted requests and merchandise, your outreach attempts could quickly result in new customers for your company.
9. Educate, educate, and educate some more.
Most Americans probably don’t even know as much as they should about waste management and recycling. Identifying opportunities to enlighten the community can assist you in growing your business and increasing your revenue. Inquire with the local press about doing a story on some Spring cleaning tips. Alternatively, provide information on how to manage used motor oil.
Take advantage of any opportunity to speak with the general public about your company. You could host a public recycling workshop or a discounted disposal day where you accept specific items and publicize your services.
10. Keep track of your online and offline presence.
To a certain extent, the truths about establishing and marketing businesses remain the same. Maintain a public presence both in your community and online. These things will assist prospective customers in finding your business.
11. Manage your expansion.
As your company grows, make sure to carefully manage your business operations so that you can continue to expand. Your business can grow if you have the right mindset and tools.