The junk removal and recycling business may not be glamorous, and it is probably a business few people dreamed of entering when they envisioned their career path. However, junk removal and recycling is a necessary and important business. This is also a business that can be quite profitable.
The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) maintains occupational projections data on many occupations, including refuse and recyclable materials collectors. According to BLS data there were 149,000 jobs in this occupational classification during 2008. During the decade from 2008 – 2018 the available jobs in this industry are expected to increase by 18.6 percent to 176,700. Median annual wages are reported to be “low” at $31,050. 11.8 percent of the people who work in this occupational classification are self-employed.
It is unlikely that many of the 149,000 people who are counted in the BLS statistics are self-employed junk recyclers. However, the occupational statistics do help to frame the size of the industry in which a junk removal and recycler would operate.
A junk removal and recycling business typically does not compete with residential or commercial trash removal services. The junk removal and recycling industry is usually more focused on residential or commercial clean-out projects (think attics, basements, and garages), appliance and furniture removal, and construction cleanup projects. A truck, perhaps a trailer, and a willingness to get dirty are the key requirements for starting a home-based, junk removal and recycling business.
Junk removal projects may be priced by the hour, by the volume of material removed, or by the job or project. Many customers will request a price for the entire removal project.
Disposal fees vary by area but are typically based on either the weight or the volume of waste. Fees may vary based on the type of material as well (construction and demolition vs. brush, for example). Disposal fees make it important to not underbid on projects since you will be paying to dispose of the material. Always round up when calculating the volume or weight of the waste you will be hauling. It is better to be pleasantly surprised that you earned an extra few dollars on a project than to discover that you earned less than you had anticipated.
Recycling is an important part of the junk removal business. Recycling is more environmentally responsible than dumping waste materials in a landfill. Recycling also serves an important financial role for the junk removal entrepreneur though. Waste materials that are recycled save the recycler money by limiting disposal fees. Recycled materials can also frequently earn cash for the recycler as well. This combination of limiting waste that is dumped into landfills, reducing waste disposal fees, and collecting revenue for the recycled materials makes recycling a winning option for the junk removal business.
Another consideration when “recycling” junk is that some of the items may be sold for an additional profit. eBay, Craigslist, tag sales, and flea markets are but a few of the options for reselling someone’s “junk” that may still have value.
Lettering or a sign on your truck (and trailer) is an important marketing tool for any junk removal and recycling business. This simple and inexpensive marketing step allows you to advertise your business wherever you drive or are parked. This can generate business as people see you working at a neighboring residence or business and decide to call for their own cleanup work.
Brochures and business cards are always great ways to distribute information about a business, and the junk removal and recycling business is no exception. Brochures can be posted on community bulletin boards. Business cards can be passed out whenever anyone asks about your business or suggests that they may have a need for your services.
Websites are increasingly important for many businesses as consumers more frequently turn to local search instead of print directories like the phone book. A business website that is optimized for local search and the keywords that your customers are likely to search under can be a great way to connect with customers. A website allows you to display photos of yourself and your vehicle(s), information about what services you offer, and some sample rates to give customers an idea of what to expect. Websites should also always include your contact information.
Advertisements in a community newspaper or local classifieds publication can also be a good way to keep your business in front of many potential customers. Community newspapers and classified ad publications frequently offer reasonable rates and discounts for long-term advertising contracts.
Vehicles used for business should always be properly insured. Automobile insurance companies usually allow customers to add a rider to their personal policy that will cover business use of the vehicle. Proper vehicle insurance is essential to avoid policy cancellations or denied claims if your insurance company discovers that you are using the vehicle for business.
Junk removal businesses may occasionally be called to remove hazardous materials or other restricted materials. Be prepared to walk away from any project that you are not prepared to handle safely and legally. The potential health risks and legal liability from improperly handling, storing or disposing of hazardous or restricted materials far outweigh any benefits.
The junk removal and recycling business can be a profitable business that is easy to start. This business is not difficult or complicated, but is built on the fact that many people do not want to be bothered hauling their own junk and would rather pay someone else to do the work for them. This business is not glamorous, but if you are looking for an easy-to-start business with the opportunity to earn a respectable profit then the junk removal and recycling business may just be the perfect home-based business.
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Site accessed on 7 October 2010.
Rubbish Removal. Entrepreneur. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.
Jim Miller. The thriving trash business. Knoxville News Sentinel. Site accessed on 23 November 2010.