How to Start a Metal Recycling Business

Updated on 4 November 2022

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If you’re dreaming of starting your own business, then it might be a good idea to consider metal recycling. Recycling is a big deal in South Africa, and it’s something that’s only getting more popular and in demand. And when it comes to recycling, metal is one of the most in-demand and profitable materials.

Whether you want to do it for the environmental benefits or simply as an entrepreneur, there are plenty of opportunities for starting a metal recycling business. In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about how to start a recycling business in South Africa.

Metal Recycling Industry Overview

South Africa is one of the countries with the highest metal recycling output. Beverage cans and metal recycled at 72%, which is an impressive global figure. Other recycled materials in South Africa also have a greater output than most other countries. Even though South Africa has over 300 recycling companies, the largely informal industry still presents many opportunities for entrepreneurs. Increasing regulations around recycling in the country also means that the demand for recycling businesses is increasing.

How to Start a Metal Recycling Business in South Africa

Starting a metal recycling business can be a rewarding venture for the right person. You’ll just need to make sure your business is well-planned, and that you take the proper steps to set it up.

Here is a breakdown of the steps you will need to take.

1. Establish Where You Will Focus

There are a few different areas you can focus on for your metal recycling business. This could include beverage cans, scrap metal, discarded metal electronics, and more. Start by understanding exactly what materials you will focus on. You will also need to establish where you will operate your recycling business. This should be in an area where there is enough demand for metal recycling, ideally with low competition.

2. Establish a Budget

Even if you’re starting your metal recycling business out small, you’ll still need a budget. This is to cover things like tools, vehicles, and possibly wages. Establishing an accurate budget is an important step in putting your business together.

3. Create a Business Plan

Your business plan is your roadmap that guides your business journey. This important document should include all the details about your business and how it will operate. This will help you establish the exact steps and requirements needed for starting your recycling business.

Make sure your business plan includes an accurate financial section, outlining your projected revenue and operating expenses. This will help you determine how viable your business is. It is also important to help you attract funding if you need it. Some other things to include in your business plan are your goals, business vision, an overview of your team, a marketing plan, and any other details of your business operations.

4. Secure Funding

If you are not funding the business yourself, you will need to secure start-up capital from another source. This could be from a bank, a private investor, or organisations that are dedicated to funding small businesses.

5. Register Your Business

You’ll need to ensure your recycling business meets all the necessary legal requirements. This includes registering your business with the CIPC, setting up your tax information, and applying for all relevant permits.

6. Start Your Business Operations

Now your metal recycling business should be ready to operate. All your operational processes should already be outlined in your business plan. This should cover hiring staff, securing premises, marketing your business, and gaining clients.

Is a Metal Recycling Business Profitable?

Yes, a metal recycling business can be profitable in South Africa if it is well-planned and well-managed. Metal can be recycled many times without losing its quality, so recycled metals are always in demand from manufacturers and builders.

Scrap metal prices can reach around R 65/kilogram, so as long as you are able to gather enough metal, you can generate decent profits. Running a small recycling business can also involve very minimal overheads, which helps to make your business more profitable.

Starting a metal recycling business can be a great idea for the right entrepreneur. Unlike other business ventures, you can start a recycling business relatively easily. As long as you find the right area to focus on and have a solid business plan, it could be a sustainable way to become your own boss and help the environment at the same time.


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