Sustainable Promotional Merchandise and Packaging

How to build a profitable recycling facility in North America

One of the reasons recyclable waste ends up in landfills and shoreline debris is simply a lack of community recycling programs and recycling facilities. Today we are challenging the aspiring entrepreneurial crowd in North America to engage in timelessly sustainable business initiative: a recycling facility.

You may think that recycling facilities are owned and operated by the government, but this is not the case! Anyone can acquire the licensing to operate and turn a profit from a recycling facility.

After China’s 2018 ban on imported recycling, the demand for national recycling facilities has skyrocketed as one third of USA and Canada’s recyclable materials are now being directed to the landfill for lack of national recycling capacity.

recyling industry emerges as own sector

Growing Demand for Recycling Facilities

As environmental responsibility has become a pressing global concern, the recycling industry is emerging as its own sector. After China’s 2018 ban on recyclable materials, one third of USA’s and Canada’s recyclable materials were left with nowhere to go but the landfill due to a lack of national capacity for recycling. There is now an incredible demand for recycling facilities across the nation to take on these materials and collaborate with fellow players to turn a usable product and healthy profit.


Finding Your Niche, Sources, and Buyers

Recyclable materials includes a vast array of post-consumer materials. Part of developing your business plan will be deciding which of these materials specifically you are going to target, where you are going to source them from, and who you are going to sell them to once they’ve been recycled. See our non-exhaustive list of potential recyclable materials for your facility below.



Plastics can be recycled back into an innumerable number of products. Your goal as a plastic recycling facility will be to break recycled plastic items down into a useable raw material and then sell to manufacturers who can use the recycled plastics in manufacturing their products.

As a reference point, check out Northwest Polymers, an industry leader in post-industrial plastic recycling.


Film and Fiber

Post-consumer film and fiber can be broken down and recycled into new packaging solutions. If you are selecting film and fiber as the focal point of your recycling facility, you may also want to consider manufacturing the recycled packaging onsite as well. The raw recycled material produced by film and fiber can also be sold to manufacturers of plastic composite products for use in manufacturing.



Carpet is disposed of in abundance in the USA. Carpet recycling facilities not only recycle old carpets into new ones, but turn them into a variety of other materials as well, such as wall board, insulation, composite plastics, erosion blanks, and equestrian supplies.

Check out Viking Recycling for ideas on how to run a carpet-based recycling facility.



Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled over and over again into glass products without any loss in quality or purity. Recycled glass can also be used as an ingredient in other products, such as bricks or water filtration systems.


Researching Machinery and Output Opportunities

Your machinery and output are going to vary based on the niche(s) you decide to focus on. Once you have selected your niche materials, you will need to research (and purchase) the machinery required to process these materials. A good investment of your time is looking thoroughly into manufacturers and suppliers of recycling machinery for your materials for price and output comparisons.

While looking into machinery, you are also going to need to bear in mind what your desired output is going to be. Recycling isn’t a one size fits all, and different types of machinery will turn the same input into different forms of output, so make sure you understand what end result your machinery is going to produce.


Collaborating with Partners

Collaboration in the recycling sector is key. As materials change hands many times through sorting and processing facilities, it is important for players to collaborate so that each party is able to take home their share of the profit.

Players to note are the collectors, the sorters, the distributors, the processors, and the manufacturers or other end user that will eventually by the recycled product. All of these parties need to work together to refine the process and keep everyone’s part in the process profitable. Thus, when entering as a player in the recycling industry, it is important to understand that collaboration is key.



Various grants may be available through your local or state government bodies to assist with start-up costs for your recycling facility, You may also be able to source funding through environmentally-focused organizations in your area.

If you’re ready to get started, check out Profitable Venture’s list of the 50 best waste recycling businesses and opportunities in 2018.


recycling facility as a business