Green Business Ideas in South Africa

Updated on 16 November 2022

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Green Business Ideas in South Africa

There’s never been a better time to launch an eco-friendly or green business idea in South Africa.  So, whether you are looking to save the planet or to take advantage of a rapidly growing market of consumers looking for environmentally-friendly products and services, there are many opportunities available to entrepreneurs wanting to go green.

What is a green business?

Green businesses look to reduce the negative impact of climate change by avoiding harmful practices, minimising waste and reducing their carbon footprint. Green businesses do this by adopting more sustainable material sourcing and manufacturing processes, and making use of less harmful packaging and shipping methods.

Some of the most popular industries for eco-friendly businesses are in energy, water conservation, waste management, as well as tourism and fashion.

Below is a list of 5 environmentally-friendly business ideas that ecopreneurs can start.

Recycling business

Waste pollution is a major problem in South Africa which makes the recycling business especially lucrative. In the SME South Africa article, ‘How to Start a Recycling Business in South Africa’, it’s estimated that “South Africa currently recycles 46% of all plastic (higher than most countries), 70% of paper, 72% of metal, and 70% of glass”, making it one of the most effective recycling industries worldwide.

Recycling businesses collect waste and other recycling materials such as tin cans, paper and plastics from households and businesses. The waste is then sold to recycling plants where it’s used as raw materials. There are many opportunities throughout the recycling process to start your business, including collection, sorting, compression and transportation.

Read the full article: How to Start a Recycling Business In South Africa


All-natural/organic products

The demand for organic and natural products is growing according to studies. More consumers worldwide say they are likely to base their purchases on the impact on the environment, and are prepared to pay more to do so by purchasing all-natural and organic products.

The organic and natural products market is diverse. It includes organic foods which are grown without artificial pesticides or fertilisers. There is also growing interest in plant-based makeup and other sustainable skincare products, as well as cleaning products which are kinder to the environment.

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Ecotourism is travel that both conserves the environment and improves the well-being of the locals.

Eco tourists looking to reduce their carbon footprint are looking for travel experiences that have green credentials. Eco-friendly accommodations will, for example, adopt sustainability practices such as LED light bulbs and renewable energy alternatives. Other sustainable eco-businesses that may interest the eco traveller are outdoor activities with minimal environmental disruptions. Examples are hiking, climbing, nature walking, and water-based activities.

See also: How this Marketing Startup is Making it Big Targeting the Ecotourism Market 

Sustainable fashion

The fashion industry is a major contributor to the world’s carbon emissions. There are, however, opportunities for fashion brands looking to reduce the industry’s impact on the planet by making eco-friendly clothing and accessories.

Eco-friendly fashion businesses take a sustainable approach to the materials they use and how the fibres are farmed. Furthermore, they offer packaging with low impact on the environment .

Green energy

The energy crisis in South Africa has been a boon for the alternative energy market, including the solar energy sector.

“With energy costs soaring in South Africa, features that focus on reducing energy – like solar panels, windows with double-glazing, energy-efficient lighting, and proper ceiling insulation are sought after,” writes Carl Coetzee, CEO at BetterBond.

There are opportunities in energy auditing and green consulting. These services help businesses or individuals to implement strategies to reduce their carbon footprint. Ecopreneurs can also launch businesses that specialise in the manufacture and installation of solar panels for both homes and businesses.


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