One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure: How to Start a Waste Management Business

The average American produces about 5.91 lbs. of daily waste. With so much trash piling up, that means it’s an excellent time to get into the booming waste management business. In fact, the industry has grown by 2.5% each year since 2000.

But there’s more to launching and running a waste management company than picking up garbage. Like any business, you need to consider financing, staffing, operations, marketing, customer service, and legal requirements. On top of all that, you also need to keep the nuances of the industry in mind as well.

As you plan your waste management business, here are some important things to keep in mind.

Find Your Niche

So, you want to start a waste management company. But do you know which kind? There are many different types of trash pickups and disposal.

First, there’s general municipal waste, the everyday garbage pickup at people’s homes. There’s also recyclable waste management, which separates certain materials – including paper, glass, and metal – from garbage to be repurposed.

Then, there is waste that requires more delicate handling there are certain dangers associated with disposing of them. Medical waste management works with hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities to safely remove items like needles, chemicals, and soiled items. If you focus on electronic waste, you’ll dispose of items like cell phones, computers, televisions, and other electronics. There’s also toxic, chemical, and nuclear waste disposal to consider. You might want to even get into sewage and wastewater management. 

By specializing in a specific niche, at least when you’re first launching your company, you’re more likely to find success. You can always branch out later.

Determine the Financial Investment Needed

As you start your waste disposal business, you’ll need to calculate your startup costs. All successful companies prepare this information upfront. It’s important to know the exact amount you need to get started as you seek funding and look for investors.

There are common startup costs across industries and the waste management field is no different. You’ll need to consider rent for office space and utilities, your business license and registration, taxes, salaries for employees, advertising and marketing.

Then, look at your industry for additional costs specific to your field. In the sanitation business, specific equipment is required to get the job done. You’ll also have fuel costs for your garbage pick-up trucks and industry-specific insurances, licenses, and permits.

Add up all these projected costs to get an idea of how much money you’ll need to get started. It will also give you an idea of how much you’ll need to make in order to see a profit.

Research the Market

You can’t just enter an industry without knowing anything about it. Before you get started, you need to research the market you’re targeting. You need to make sure the demand for your service is there.

If you’re looking to launch in a certain region, what other waste management companies are already operating there? And what can you offer clients that sets you apart from competitors? Doing this due diligence can mean the difference between success and failure.

Your research should also be specific to the type of waste management you’re specializing in. If you’re choosing municipal waste, then look at the garbage pickup in all nearby cities, towns, and counties. What is the scope of these programs and how much are these municipalities paying?

If you choose to focus on more of a niche area, like medical waste, look specifically to that industry. Make a list of all medical facilities in your area as well as a list of other companies that deal with medical waste. Then, crunch the numbers to see how you can provide better prices than your competitors.

Get the Right Equipment

To do the job well, you need to purchase the right equipment based on your planned waste specialization. There are several types of trucks to consider, each with different functions and features that require your review before making a purchase.

Front loader trucks are ideal for industrial and commercial pick-up. They also require that you provide large-scale dumpsters to your clients.

Side loader garbage trucks are more appropriate for household pick-up. And rear loader trucks, which can be used for both home and commercial pick-up, are more versatile.

Roll-off trucks are the vehicles you need if you’re targeting large-scale commercial pickup at industrial and demolition sites. Meanwhile, vactor trucks are built for handling liquid, sludge, and sewage clean-up.

Create a Waste Management Business Plan

All successful businesses, including those in the waste collection industry, should have a business plan. A business plan is a written document that outlines all the key elements of your company: the nature of your services, how you plan to operate, marketing strategies, and a financial plan and budget.

A good business plan will provide you with the guidance you need as you launch your company. You’ll also need this plan at various steps along the way. Investors will want to review your business plan. Banks and other financial institutions might want to see this document before you can open accounts. And potential clients, particularly municipalities and large commercial companies, will likely want to look at it as well.

Learn More About Starting a Business

As you launch your waste management business, check out our business resources section for more helpful information for entrepreneurs. Our vast selection of articles provides all the latest business strategies for marketing, improving, and growing your start-up.