How to start up a waste collection business

How to start a waste removal business UKIf you plan to offer waste disposal services, you’ll have to comply with many environmental regulations. In today’s world, waste management is a critical issue. With the growing population and the ever-increasing amount of waste being produced, it’s more important than ever to have a efficient system for collecting and disposing of garbage.

That’s where a waste collection business comes in. By partnering with a local waste management company, you can offer your customers a reliable and affordable way to get rid of their garbage. In addition to providing an essential service, a waste collection business can also be quite profitable. With the right marketing and management, you can build a successful and sustainable business.

Discover how to start up and successfully run a waste collection business with our detailed guide.

Research your target market

It’s important to consider your customer base, how well they are already served, and why they will choose your business over your competitors when planning your waste collection business. You can help yourself with this by doing some market research.

The demand for a specialist waste collecting service

Your waste collection business needs to be in high demand in the area. Most local authorities provide domestic waste collection services and recycling facilities for the collection of dry waste. For larger items or waste like household and garden trash or construction rubble, skip hire is also widely available. It’s likely you’ll need to offer a more specialised service if you want to make sure you get enough business.

Taking this into consideration, consider the types of waste collection services that would be most in demand in your area. If you live in a rural area, you could offer a collection service for farm waste, such as used pesticides, agrochemicals, and animal waste. Offering to collect scrap metal, waste oil or chemicals in areas of industrial activity may be of interest to you. Batteries, waste papers, cardboard, plastic, toner cartridges, and old computer equipment may be collected in towns and cities. You might want to focus on recycling. Consider offering shredding and disposal services for sensitive documents.

Identify the local authority’s waste collection policy for the area where you plan to operate. Different authorities have adopted different policies regarding waste collection due to the increase in recycling over the last few years. There are some municipalities that limit how many bags/bins of household waste they will collect and how often they will collect them, such as fortnightly collection for some municipalities and monthly collection for others. There are some companies that collect garden waste for free, and there are others that charge.

If households find the official collections inadequate, your local authority may offer regular or one-off collections to supplement their collections. As well as determining what the authority charges, you will find out what paid-for services it offers.


Consider the level of competition in your area when considering waste collection opportunities in your area. See if there are any other organisations offering waste collection services in your area. You can find out more about this by searching and other local directories. Local authorities may provide free or paid-for services that compete with your services. Take a look at the competition from:

  • Skip hire companies
  • Businesses and organisations involved in recycling and recovery
  • There are also other independent waste management companies, including large national companies such as Biffa and Veolia, as well as smaller local ones.

If you have identified a niche market that you can fill, you will probably only compete directly against some of these businesses.

To establish a waste collection business in your area, examine the existing businesses:

  • The type of waste they collect and the price they charge
  • Their willingness to collect waste over what area
  • The frequency at which they collect
  • The availability of appropriate bins, skips, containers, and sacks
  • The services they provide in addition to waste collection, such as decontamination, industrial cleaning, and waste management advice
  • The level of knowledge and assistance provided by their staff
  • Membership in a professional or trade association

The waste industry is still plagued by waste crime, even though the government has succeeded in closing down some rogue operators.

Why will customers choose your business

The number of customers choosing your waste collection service over existing services is very important. Identify what people are looking for and whether the type of services you are considering will be attractive to them. Prices will be a major concern for many customers. There might be a demand for your business’s collection service based on your market research.

Try surveying potential customers in your local area. The types of businesses that may require specialist waste collection services include hospitals, schools, colleges, farms, boarding kennels, garages, shops, builders, catering establishments and large industrial concerns in addition to domestic homeowners. You can ask them if they use a waste collection service and what type of waste they produce.

Your market

Your customers could include the general public and local businesses and organisations, depending on the type of waste you intend to collect.

In addition to homeowners, other members of the public might be interested in disposing of garden waste or building rubble.

You may have the following trade customers:

  • A shop or an office
  • The farmers
  • Those who deal with food waste and animal by-products in the food and catering industry
  • Workplaces and factories
  • Businesses that repair cars and garages
  • The practice of veterinary medicine
  • Surgery and clinics for doctors
  • Garden centres
  • Firms involved in building
  • A local authority, college, hospital, school, and so on

Types of waste

In the UK, waste is defined by law and categorised according to its type.

Controlled waste

Those who store, handle, transport or dispose of controlled waste must comply with certain legal requirements. There are three types of controlled waste: household waste, industrial waste, and commercial waste:

  • There are a wide variety of household wastes, such as those generated by houses, caravans, houseboats, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, and other living arrangements.
  • There is industrial waste from factories, public transportation facilities, gas, water, electricity, sewerage, postal and telecommunications facilities.
  • The term commercial waste refers to waste from premises used for trade, business, sport, recreation, and entertainment

Controlled wastes fall into the following categories:

  • Demolition and construction waste
  • The disposal of waste electronic and electrical equipment
  • Waste packaging
  • In addition to clinical waste, there are non-clinical ‘offensive’ wastes associated with healthcare
  • Waste from vehicles and oily materials

Hazardous waste can be classified as any of the above categories in some cases.

Besides sewage sludge disposed of by landfill or incineration, controlled waste includes waste from mining, quarries, and agricultural operations.

Recyclable materials

There are some waste types that can potentially be recycled and may have some value if they are correctly sorted and handled. Some materials, such as scrap metal, can sometimes be de-classified as waste if they are properly recycled (de-classification means they are not covered by waste regulations). There are targets to encourage waste materials to be recycled, and certain materials, such as scrap metal, can sometimes be de-classified as waste when they are properly recycled.

Hazardous waste

Under Scottish and Northern Ireland’s Hazardous Waste Regulations, hazardous wastes (also known as ‘special wastes’) are controlled wastes. If improperly handled, treated, or disposed of, hazardous wastes can cause harm to humans or the environment. There are many types of chemicals, including those that are flammable, irritating, toxic, harmful, carcinogenic, and corrosive. Hazardous waste is subject to specific rules for storage, transport, and disposal.

Disposal of waste

You must dispose of any waste you collect at a facility that accepts the type of waste you collected. Fees will vary based on the amount and type of waste you deposit – hazardous waste will be charged a higher fee than building rubble or garden waste. When figuring out how much to charge your customers for waste removal, don’t forget to include this fee.

Visit for more information about waste, including guidance on waste classification.

What type of waste will you collect?

It is possible to collect many different types of waste. The market research you conducted may have helped you identify a particular need in your area.

Businesses may collect just one or two types of waste (for instance, hazardous liquids and effluent), while others may collect a variety of less specialized waste (such as garden waste, builders‘ rubble, household items, etc.). It is easy to find out what types of waste are collected in your area by browsing on

One or more of the following may be of interest to you:

  • Garden waste and general household waste
  • Sheds and garages that are old
  • Rubble and waste from general construction
  • Paper, toner cartridges, and old computers make up office waste
  • Shredding or destruction of confidential waste
  • Cardboard and paper
  • Materials such as plastic
  • Glass
  • Light bulbs that are energy-efficient, fluorescent tubes
  • Liquids that are hazardous (including septic tank emptying)
  • ‘Offensive’ waste from hospitals, clinics, and veterinarians.
  • In laboratories, photographic shops, and factories, chemical waste is generated.
  • Electronics, computers, monitors, and laptops that are old
  • Broken equipment and offcuts of old machinery are included in scrap metal
  • The batteries
  • Tyres
  • The use of used oil (from garages or factories)
  • Agricultural waste (such as used pesticides)
  • Asbestos (you will need a special licence to collect this)
  • The use of animal by-products (for example, by food manufacturers and caterers)

You will need specialist equipment to collect certain types of waste, such as tankers to drain septic tanks or trucks to remove liquids like used oil. It is mandatory to transport asbestos waste in sealed containers and to use protective equipment when handling asbestos waste. You may find that these types of services are less commonly offered in your area due to the need for extra equipment. In order to justify the extra equipment costs, you need to determine if there is sufficient demand.

A large van, skip, pick-up truck or lorry can usually accommodate most other types of waste.

Extra services

In order to attract more trade, you might decide to offer extra services. You may offer a house clearance service, a garage clearance service, or a site clearance service. Old sheds and garages could be demolished and removed by you. In offices, shops, factories, hospitals, or schools, you could provide waste containers and recycling bins that are regularly emptied. They may be used to collect old batteries, clinical waste, bottles, chemical containers, or paper.


In 2016, around 45% of household waste was recycled in the UK (latest available figure), up from 6% in 1995/96, but still below many other European countries. The recycling of used items and waste material is a rapidly growing industry, however, driven on by regulations such as the EU Landfill Directive, which requires the UK to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, and the EU Waste Framework Directive. A greater emphasis is placed on reducing waste, recycling and recovering waste that cannot be avoided in this Framework Directive.

Recycling rates are high for certain items and materials that have been recycled for many years. Car batteries, for example, are recycled to a greater than 90% degree. Approximately 60% of our glass is now recycled (some European countries recycle over 90%). New environmental concerns and legislation have led to the recycling of other materials only recently. Larger businesses must now recycle a certain percentage of packaging waste, for example, as part of their legal obligations.

Recyclable items and waste materials are expanding at a rapid pace as new laws are introduced. Tyres can no longer be disposed of in landfills, which means they must now be recycled. The UK has recently incorporated European legislation on battery recycling, which has encouraged the recycling of dry cell batteries.

Scrap vehicles and old refrigerators are also subject to specific regulations for disposal. It is only permissible to dispose of these items at authorised treatment facilities, where much of the material is recycled.

There has been an increase in recycling, and this trend is likely to continue. Member states are required to achieve high recycling targets by 2020 under the EU Waste Framework Directive 2008. The target is to recycle 50% by then (although this is unlikely to be achieved) and 70% of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste by then.

A waste collection service that takes materials to an authorised recycling facility will be very convenient as more organizations discover they are legally required to recycle some of their waste.

A growing awareness of the need for businesses to adopt more sustainable production processes has also led to legislation requiring businesses to recycle certain waste materials. Many industries are moving toward establishing a circular economy, which makes it easier to re-use and recycle items instead of throwing them away. In addition to providing manufacturers with good quality secondary materials, this also creates opportunities for the waste collection sector.

Low value waste materials

Despite being recyclable, many types of waste have little or no value. As a result of law, recycling is only carried out when it is more expensive than the value of the end product. Tyres and dry cell batteries are two types of waste that recycling facilities charge for.

Recyclable items or weights will determine the amount charged. The recycling facility will charge you a fee each time you deliver a load of this type of waste to them for recycling. In calculating how much you should charge your customers; you will need to include this cost.

Higher value waste materials

Recycling facilities will pay for each load delivered of other types of recyclable waste (the market value can change). Among these materials are aluminium cans and other scrap metal, waste cooking oil, sorted glass, and high-grade waste wood. In addition to bottle, can, and paper banks provided by local authorities, large organisations and businesses may also have their own recycling bins. The waste material is taken to nearby recycling plants by waste collection firms who provide and empty the recycling bins/banks. Recycling materials such as these are in high demand, and the amount paid depends on the weight of the material.

In addition to lead acid batteries, printer cartridges, office furniture, wooden pallets, mobile phones, and certain chemical wastes (as used photographic processing chemicals from which silver can be recovered), other waste items that are often recycled and have a relatively high value include lead acid batteries, printer cartridges, office furniture, wooden pallets, and mobile phones.

On websites such as Letsrecycle and Recycle-more, you can learn more about recycling issues. Letsrecycle provides information on recycling market prices.

Pricing policy

It is crucial to get the price right. Your price must cover all of your operating costs, including your own drawings.

Unless you’re offering a type of waste collection service that your competitors do not, you will also need to price your services competitively. Asbestos, waste chemicals, clinical waste, and other hazardous substances might require special handling.

Any waste you collect will need to be disposed of, so your customers’ charges will be affected by this. You may be able to sell waste that will be recycled to a recycling facility if you are collecting waste that will be recycled. Amounts and types of materials will determine how much you receive. The waste producer is usually informed that the material has some value if it is worth a lot of money. It is important to keep in mind that some materials – such as scrap metal – tend to fluctuate quite a bit in price.

If you offer a convenient, reliable, flexible waste collection service to your domestic customers, they will appreciate a tidy, efficient service. It’s likely that potential customers will shop around to compare prices since waste collection services are usually offered by several companies in the same area.

Check out the websites of local waste collection companies – they may have information about their prices that will help you to set your own.

Business Finance specialist at Invoice funding | + posts

Seasoned professional with a strong passion for the world of business finance. With over twenty years of dedicated experience in the field, my journey into the world of business finance began with a relentless curiosity for understanding the intricate workings of financial systems.

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