waste management
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10 Business Opportunities In Waste Management And How to Start Them

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 Business Opportunities In Waste Management?

What comes to your mind whenever the expression “waste management” is mentioned?  If you are like most people, it is probably Refuse Collectors or Scavengers that come to mind.  Yes, those people that haul the rubbish from households.

Waste management is much more than collecting garbage from your residence.  It is a big industry that extends the collection, treatment, conversion and disposal of waste materials obtained from households, industrial plants and commercial premises.

In major cities, towns and even villages, tons of wastes are generated on a daily basis.  In Nigeria, it is estimated that 32 million tons of waste is generated annually and out of this number, not more than 30 percent is collected.

Here lies the opportunities for smart entrepreneurs because the business of waste management is largely under exploited. The business of waste management is structured to collect, treat and dispose waste materials

Before we look at the business opportunities in waste management, let’s understand a few things about waste.

Types of Waste Materials

The way waste material is treated or disposed is usually a function of its type.  There are different types of waste materials and a few of the common ones are identified here.

Solid Waste – Any waste that is not liquid is regarded as solid waste.  Solid waste comprises of a variety of materials such as plastics, rubber, paper, metal and even food.  Such waste mostly come from homes, offices and other commercial places.

Liquid Waste – These are waste materials that are in liquid form and include things like waste water, wash water, waste detergent and other liquid used for cleaning in industries and homes. 

Organic Waste – these are waste materials from plants and animal.  They are biodegradable; hence they can decompose and turn to manure.  Food waste, fruit and vegetable peels, flower trimmings and animal poops are all organic wastes.

Hazardous Waste – these are waste materials that are harmful and have potential threat on the environment.  It comprise materials such as chemicals, pesticides, fire extinguishers, thermostats and other equipment that contains mercury, bulbs, lamps and batteries.

This type of wastes are either corrosive, reactive, inflammable and toxic.  Due these factors, the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste requires skills and competencies that are determined by relevant environmental authorities.

Recyclable Waste – Any waste material that can be converted to a useful and beneficial product is a recyclable waste.  Recyclable waste can come from any of the other types of wastes identified, particularly organic, solid and liquid wastes.

Common recyclable wastes are paper, metal, electronic, bottles, furniture, rubber, containers, tins, ceramic glass and jars, etc. 

These are the common type of waste materials that scavengers rummage dumpsites and liter bins at homes to collect.

Medical/Chemical Waste – these are waste materials from hospitals, health centers, veterinary centers, and laboratories.  Waste materials from these facilities include syringes, needles, surgical items, blood and body parts.  Medical wastes can be classified as hazardous.

The Business Opportunities In Waste Management 

Though it doesn’t seem to be a popular business idea, Waste management is a big business, one in which some smart African entrepreneurs are making tons of money from .  That is why you hear slogans like these:

“Waste to Wealth”

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”

“Shit money no de smell”

In this post, I highlight 10 Business Ideas in Waste Management that you can immediately exploit to get rich.  I also give some tips on how you can start these businesses.

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If you are a school leaver, unemployed graduate, investor or retiree looking for lucrative business to do, here are 12 business startup ideas you can explore right now.

  1. Waste Collection

The business of waste collection is about helping households, commercial and industrial occupants to collect and dispose their waste.

Garbage Collectors go with their trucks door to door to collect waste and transport same to designated dumpsite or landfills.

In Lagos State Nigeria, the government licenses operators in what it calls private sector participants (PSP) in waste management to collect solid wastes door to door.  To be eligible, an entrepreneur is required to make some investment in infrastructure and human resources.

If you are interested in solid waste collection, you will need to get your business registered and also obtain a permit from the relevant agencies in your state of interest.  Most importantly, you will need a rugged truck and protective materials and hire field boys to help collect the wastes from your customers premises.

The opportunities in this space is huge: organize your business properly and market your services to households, hotels, hospitals, banks, shopping malls, factories, etc.

  1. Scrap Vendor

Scrap Vending, is perhaps the simplest business idea in the waste management industry.  It requires modest investment to get started.

A scrap dealer maintains a warehouse, a scrap yard or store where a variety of scraps such as metals, aluminum, iron, electronics, copper etc. are collected and thereafter sold to recycling plants operators. 

The major source of supply for the scrap dealers are the scavengers and the owners of used or spoiled items.

A small investment in weighing scale, a pick up van, market research and some relationship can get you started as scrap materials vendor or waste collector.  Entrepreneurs who have the resources can engage young boys and girls directly to source for these materials.

As pointed out earlier, the major market for scrap materials are companies that engage in waste recycling.  A major player in this sector is Nigerian Foundries Limited at Ilupeju, Lagos.

  1. Waste Recycling

Rather than dispose waste, the ideal now is to process it into new and useful products.  Waste recycling is a way of adding value to waste.  Both organic and inorganic waste can be processed and turned into useful products in households and industries.

Apart from the commercial benefits, recycling help keep a clean environment by reducing air, water and land pollution.

If you are interested in starting waste recycling business, the following are some of the ideas that you can explore:

Paper Recycling – used papers (newspapers, books, newsprints, magazines, cardboards, envelopes, etc.) can be processed into shopping bags, carton boxes, toilet tissues, etc.) The market for these products is quite huge.

Plastic Recycling – Plastic waste is very common because a lot of items are made of plastics.  It is estimated that global consumption of plastic materials is in excess of 300 tons annually.

It is also a huge source of environmental pollution, hence there is a growing emphasis on plastic recycling. Common waste plastic materials include plastic bottles, containers, tins, buckets, and shopping bags, polythene bags, etc.  Others include plastic plates, spoons, trays, films, crates, pipes, moulds, foams, strapping and cables, among others.

These waste plastic materials can be processed and formed into a wide range of useful products.  If you ever consider starting up in plastic waste business, your potential customers include plastic manufacturing companies, plastic shoe manufactures, shopping bags makers, etc.

Metal – scrap metals is another common source of waste liters the environment.  Some of these includes beverage cans, containers, metal sheets, copper wires, etc. These can be processed into many useful products.

Your potential customers include aluminum makers, foundries, electronic product makers, etc.

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Rubber – A lot of product are made of rubber – shoes, tires, carpets, etc.  Rubber waste materials can be recycled to make new better and useful products.

Organic Waste Recycling – organic wastes from food, vegetables, flowers and animal poops can be processed into useful products such as manure and fertilizers for growing crops etc.

  1. Cleaning Services

    The need for professional cleaners in homes, offices and factories is growing by day. They will continue to be in demand as the population grows and as many people continue to spend more time in their businesses and places of work.

Cleaning service can be identified in the following categories:

Domestic Cleaning cleaning of homes and their surroundings. Such services may entail specialty work such as toilet stain removal, clearing of surrounding grasses and fumigation to keep the environment free of rodents and insects.

Commercial Cleaning This is the cleaning of offices, malls, hotels, schools, and other business premises.  Many organizations now outsource cleaning of their business premises and offices to professional cleaning companies.

Industrial Cleaning –   Including factories, construction sites, warehouses, power plants and other industrial areas.  Industrial cleaning may involve removal of hazardous materials.

Tank CleaningTank cleaning is a very specialized kind of cleaning service.  It is about the removal of oil residue or hydrocarbon vapours and liquids. It is a service in hot demand by oil and gas companies both in the upstream and downstream.  

In Nigeria, an entrepreneur who wishes to render tank cleaning service must obtain a permit from the Department of Petroleum Resources.

Starting a cleaning company may require some investment in simple equipment such vacuum cleaners, mowers, brushes, buckets etc and materials like soaps and sponges.  It is also important that the entrepreneur provides protective materials for staff to enhance their health and safety.

Similar related is water tank cleaning and treatment which also offer good income potential for investors in waste management business.

  1. Sewage Management and Evacuation

Sewage and septic cleaning, evacuation, pumping and disposal can be a profitable business for interested entrepreneurs to invest in.  The opportunities are quite high due to the fact that in all the major and minor cities, evacuation of sewages, septic tanks and soakaway is usual challenge. 

The range of services a sewage management and evacuation outfit renders include waste management, drainage and cleaning services.

Start a sewage disposal business and smile to the bank.  Your customers include households, commercial and industrial premises. 

  1. Oil Spill Clean Up

Oil spill is a common occurrence in the process of hydrocarbon/oil exploration.  It often happens when crude oil is accidentally discharged on land or into body of waters by offshore oil drilling rig, water tanker, and underwater pipeline or storage facilities.

An oil spill is extremely hazardous and dangerous to the environment and that’s why it needs to be urgently cleaned whenever it occurs. Oil spill cleaning is a very technical process and require some level of expertise that is not common.

An entrepreneur considering an opportunity in oil spill cleanup must obtain necessary approvals and recruit environmental specialists as well as some specialized equipment. 

Oil exploration companies are always seeking to work with specialist oil spill cleanup, containment and remediation service providers to help provide emergency responses in an oil spill situation.

  1. Construction Waste Disposal

This is another specialized area of waste management that focuses on managing, reusing and disposal of waste materials arising from building and other forms construction or civil engineering operations.

Construction waste management services can extend providing systems for the disposal of site preparation waste, including trees, grasses, and excavated materials. It also include effective cleaning of the site after construction to get rid of dangerous materials such as nails, wires, and metals.

  1. Sale of Waste Management and Disposal Equipment

Entrepreneurs who can afford to raise the capital needed to stock waste disposal and management equipment can make good money selling, renting or leasing these equipment to operators.

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Some of the equipment include: trucks, vans, waste bags, protective equipment, facial masks, incinerators, shredders, and separators, reel cutters, etc.  Also in this business category will include sale of fumigation equipment and chemical.

  1. Fumigation Services

Fumigation is the process of getting rid of rodents and insects in our homes, business premises, commercial centers and factories using special materials and chemicals.

This business can be carried as a component of a general cleaning business or as a standalone special service.  Whichever way planned, fumigation services is in high demand and it can be operated in scales suitable to an entrepreneur’s pocket.

  1. Waste Management Magazine/Publication

If you have a journalistic flair, you can make money publishing magazines or journals in waste management.  This publication can be digital or offline.  Alternatively, you can set up a blog dedicated to waste management and disposal and a general review of environmental issues.

After loading your blog with relevant content, monetize with adverts, sale of affiliate products, sponsored posts, etc.

Now that you know some of the business opportunities in waste management, let’s briefly highlight how you can go about starting your waste management business.

Steps to Starting a Waste Management Business

You can start a waste management business by taking the following steps:

  1. Decide which type of waste management business you want to do – As you can see, the Waste Management is a vast industry so the first step is to decide which area of the industry you wish to play in.

Some of the factors that will help you decide on a niche within the waste management business is the amount of capital available to you, your experience and skill, and regulatory requirement.

  1. Raise the needed Capital – some waste management business requires a huge investment while others can be started with very little amount of cash. So the amount of money you have will impact on the type of waste management business you will start.
  2. Conduct a market research – A market research will help you understand the business you want to start and decide whether or not you are cut out for that kind of business. It will also help you determine the feasibility of the business.
  3. Register your Business –  Take steps to register your business.  It’s importance cannot be overemphasized for the many benefits it offers you. 
  4. Obtain Relevant Permit – Some of the waste management business opportunities will require that you obtain permits from the relevant environmental agency or bodies in the state of operation.

Take time to study the requirement as they relate to your area of interest and ensure that you do the right thing to avoid running afoul of the law.

Success Factors in Waste Management Business

The following tips will help you succeed in waste management business

  1. Specialize – focus on a specific area of the industry and aim to become an expert at it.
  2. Recycle – Consider waste recycling business if you are desirous of adding more value to the environment. You will also probably be making more money.  Recycling is also scalable, meaning that you can actually start with what you have and grow organically.
  3. Deploy Technology – This will include equipment, vehicles and software. Study to understand what is required in your area of interest and ensure you deploy relevant technology and equipment
  4. Capital –  We cannot stress the importance of this enough. You will need cash to start most waste management businesses highlighted in this post.
  5. Cost Management – Instituting an effective cost management system will ensure the long term survival of your business.

Buchi provides small business owners with strategic, financial, and digital support to help them build strong, successful and profitable enterprises. He is a Blogger at night and by day, Team Lead at Stalwart Investment Partners Ltd, a research, business and investment advisory firm.


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