How to Start a Profitable Recycling Business in Africa

Africa’s got a waste situation, and it’s no joke! Currently, about 70 million tonnes of used materials are piling up. By the end of 2025, that heap could skyrocket to a whopping 160 million tonnes!

These waste materials are harmful to humans and animals. They make the environment inhabitable. Only a tiny 5-10% of this mess gets recycled while about 90-95% ends up in illegal dumps. 

You can become an eco-savvy entrepreneur and dive headfirst into the recycling game. Not only will you rake in the rewards, but you’ll contribute to a more habitable environment. 

In this article, I’m going to walk you through how to start a profitable recycling business in Africa. 

Recycling Meaning

Recycling is simply the process of transforming used materials into new ones. It is an essential process that plays a pivotal role in promoting environmental sustainability 

Recycling on the African continent has faced challenges such as management, sustainability, limited infrastructure, and awareness. By converting waste materials into reusable resources, recycling significantly reduces the strain on natural resources and minimizes the negative impact of human activities on the environment.

Read Also: How to Start a Food Packaging Business in Africa in 2023

Types of Recycling/Recycling Business Ideas

Here are the most common types of recycling.

1. Paper

In Africa, tonnes of paper are used for printing and writing and are later thrown away as waste. When paper is not recycled, it contributes to environmental pollution.

Many businesses and institutions use recycled paper for printed materials such as general stationery, business cards, newspapers, and magazines.

2. Plastic

There are different types of plastics that can be recycled. As a result, plastic recycling is one of the most lucrative recycling business.

Plastic waste is recycled into new products such as plastic cans, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and buckets, to name a few.

3. Metal

Metal is one of the most recycled materials in the world because it is 100% recyclable.

Metal recycling requires no special process other than heating scrap metal to obtain new metal.

4. Wood

Wood recycling involves collecting wood waste and converting it into reusable products for paper production, wood pellets, energy generation, and more. 

Wood or wooden furniture can be disassembled and reshaped, polished, and then transformed into something else with the help of a good craftsman.

This can also be an avenue for you to generate additional income.

5. Glass and bottle

Another lucrative business idea is recycling glass and bottles. Collecting used glass cups, water bottles, bottle glasses, beer and soda bottles and other glass materials could turn you into a millionaire.

The glasses glass is crushed or imploded and remelted as a cullet.

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6. Clothing and textile

Recycling of textiles and clothing and textiles involves transformation of fibers, yarns, and fabrics into new products. This can be a profitable venture if you have a flair for the fashion industry.

7. Tin can

If you want to start a recycling business, recycling tin cans is one of the easiest ways since used tin cans are waste.

To get a reasonable kilograms, you need to collect a large number of cans. Fortunately, food cans and beverage cans are collected and recycled together.

It’s all free and not only good for the environment but also profitable.

8. Leather

You can collect leather waste from manufacturers, tanneries, and other old leathers and recycled them into new products like bags, belts, clothing, and laces.

You can even decide to start your fashion line through this recycled leather.

9. Batteries

Recycling batteries is  cheap and easy to start. Recycling batteries such as lithium and lead-acid batteries for cars is environmentally friendly and economically viable.

10. Tire

Recycling tires is another profitable business idea. Rubber from shredded tires can be recycled and made into a new product that is used for playgrounds, soccer fields, or other rubber products.

How to Start a Recycling Business

1. Do a thorough market research

A critical study of the market will give you a comprehensive insight into any recycling business, including the types of materials commonly recycled, market demand for recycled goods, and potential competitors in your area.

It will help you understand how to succeed and how to overcome potential challenges.

2. Create a business plan

The business plan is the framework for your business. The business plan should outline your goals, target market, budget, marketing strategies and the type of material you’ll recycle.

A business plan will serve as a roadmap for your business and would be useful for funding and securing partnership.

3. Buy the necessary equipment

Purchasing the right equipment and tools is the best form of investment in the recycling business. With the right equipment, your company can work efficiently and increase production.

The equipment needed will depend on the types of materials you intend to recycle. Common recycling equipment includes balers, crushers, shredders, and sorting machines.

4. Locate business near customers

Your business should be located near the market and customers. Choose a location that has enough space for material storage and processing.

Read Also: How to Start a Cosmetic Business in Africa

5. Register with the regulatory agencies in your country 

After you have established your business, you need to register it with the relevant authority to make it legal. To operate efficiently and expand your business, you need a permit with the required license.

6. Hire workers

For starters, you can start with one or two employees. To produce on a larger scale, you will need to hire more workers. 

However, ensure you hire workers who are loyal, skilful and committed.

7. Build relationships with suppliers

Develop partnerships with local businesses, households, and industries that generate recyclable materials. Offer to collect their waste materials for recycling or create drop-off points where they can bring recyclables themselves.

8. Establish recycling collection and processing points 

Set up a system for collecting, sorting, and processing recyclable materials. Develop efficient methods for segregating different types of materials to ensure high-quality recycling outputs.

9. Create an online presence 

In this modern age, it is important for businesses that are just starting out to create an online presence.

With a website and a social media account on various platforms, you can easily reach your target suppliers and consumers.


Starting a recycling business in Africa is not only lucrative, but it is also good for the environment.

The fact that Africa’s recycling business space is still little explored makes it a good venture for any serious entrepreneur.


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Samuel Oladimeji
Samuel Oladimeji
As a skilled content writer, I possess a knack for crafting compelling and engaging content that captivates readers. With a versatile writing style, I bring ideas to life through well-researched and informative articles. I am dedicated to delivering high-quality content tailored to meet clients' specific needs, whether it's creating engaging blog posts, informative web copy, or captivating social media content. With a passion for words and a commitment to excellence, I strive to provide content that resonates with the target audience and leaves a lasting impact.

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