Mostly, we don’t want to deal too much with trash. Some of us recycle and reuse all the time, but it’s only in the scope of household. What if we upgrade that recycling and turn it into a business? Did you know that it’s more than possible to turn trash into profit? Here are some examples that might inspire you to start your own business.
1. Repurpose School bags
Helping the less fortunate people are always a good motivation to start your own company. Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane, at only 21 and 22 years old, founded a company that provides recycled school bags with additional function. Their purpose is to help hundreds of disadvantaged students in local communities of South Africa.
The two collects and recycles plastic waste into school bags. But that’s not all. The bags have some strips of reflective material so the children are more visible to traffic at dark. They also have solar panel in the flap part that charges when the children walk to their school and back.
What are those solar panels for? They are used to provide lighting at night, replacing candles. The students can use it for homework and study. They can focus more about school and study and won’t have to spend more money on candles.
The bags are usually bought by organizations which supports the duo’s purpose of making the bags. Thato and Rea’s creation have gathered attention both locally and internationally. The duo has been featured in media. And they became first runner-up of Anzisha Prize in 2014.
2. Toast Ale
Having fun with beers while also saving the earth. It’s kind of hard isn’t it? But not according to Tristram Stuart. This man has been battling food waste for 15 years and recently, he found a unique way to realize what he wanted to achieve.
Bread is often unsold and discarded, especially from food business that involves bread. And to reduce this waste, Stuart thought that he could turn this waste into something new, consumable, and just as tasty, which is beer. Thus, Toast Ale was born.
Seems like people enjoy this beer. The company has its base in UK and United States. And Stuart plans to launch soon in South Africa and Iceland. All profits of the beer go to Feedback. It’s an environmental advocacy organization founded by Stuart. Its purpose is to fight global food waste.
Stuart said that his company is careful to partner with established breweries, and his current brewer in the UK cares about the environment. “There are wind turbines on site that provide power, the spent grain is fed to the local pigs, and water is cleaned by reed beds,” he said.
According to Stuart, food production is the biggest impact that humans have on the environment. But he believed that fighting food waste isn’t that difficult. “Ending food waste does not require huge investment or structural change, and it can be achieved by simply valuing and enjoying our food.”
3. Baldor Fresh Cuts
This company supplies restaurants and kitchens, but they also turn the refuse into something consumable. Carrot tops and peels, onion skins, celery tops, pineapple cores, string bean tips, and watermelon rinds are collected together and then transformed into cookies, juices, supplements, bread crumbs, and many more.
For example, carrot peels are ground and turned into carrot peel cookies. The tips and romaine cores go to a company that uses refuse fruits and vegetables to make unique juices. Baldor designed a nutritional supplement from dehydrated vegetables. It can be ground and added to flour in order to make croutons and bread crumbs.
Every week, the company takes about 150.000 pounds of discarded refuse and scraps which usually end up in landfill. Then, they turn them into consumables. The director, Thomas McQuillan, said, “Initially, we thought we would send it to a composting facility and make dirt, but hauling it any long distance would cost a tremendous amount. You cannot solve one sustainability problem by creating another one.”
Of course, not all scraps are transformable into human product. But this company thought about this. The scraps become food for pigs and poultry. “We came up with a solution for 100 percent of our discarded products. It either becomes human food or animal feed. That’s what gets us to zero landfill,” said McQuillan.
The possibilities of turning trash into something new and profitable is abundant. You can even turn ocean debris into swimwear like this brand. The founder and designer, Diana Auria, partnered with Econyl to get the fabric.
Econyl is a firm from Italy. They took discarded fishing nets and other debris found in ocean water. Then, they melt them down, extract the pure polyamide, and weave it into nylon fabric. The quality of this recycled fabric is still high and they’re comfortable to wear, as assured by Auria. “Making a difference to the environment is incredibly important to me, but I also knew that people wouldn’t buy something for the beach that they didn’t feel good wearing,” she said.
Before she got this business idea, Auria firstly learned about the horrific impact of textile manufacturing to the environment. She found out that most of the damage was because of the use of energy as well as toxic chemicals. Then Auria wanted to know more about the possibilities of reusing something old to create something new and attractive.
In 2012, Auria debuted at London Fashion Week which focused on sustainability. In that fashion week, her design and products caught high-profile stockists’ attention. Auria has collaborated with other ethical brands such as EMG and Dr Noki. Since then, her brand has become a recognized name in fashion industry.
5. Greenville’s Carolina Recycling Company
🌱 Carolina Recycling Co, a post-industrial plastics recycler, is rescuing the environment, one bottle cap at a time. https://t.co/jTfrsY8eFD
— Upstate Biz Journal (@UpstateBiz) August 25, 2017
Recycling plastic. What this company does may sound simple, but when you think about it, the result won’t be simple. Plastic exist because it’s cheap to produce and durable. But there’s material which is not a part of the finished product and ends up discarded.
“Some companies send discarded plastics to the landfill. But there are companies who prefer to send waste to recycling companies like mine, because it just makes one big circle and ends back up in the manufacturing process somewhere else,” founder Caleb Lewis said.
To get recycling material, Lewis partnered with small and large manufacturers. Sometimes he also supply the plastic waste to other recycling companies. He buys the waste first, then he grind or shred it. Afterwards, he sells it to companies which will repurpose the waste into their own products.
Lewis usually sells his materials for about 5 cents per pound of waste. He earns $2000 for every 40.000 pounds each month. About 40% goes to international buyers. “It’s a good margin for the recycling industry. Our revenue has almost doubled every year since I started the company,” said Lewis.
Recycling is beneficial to both environment and manufacturers. It saves up to $300.000 a year in waste management costs. They can also earn more than $50.000 in profits by selling their discarded materials. Manufacturers can save money and resources while environment won’t suffer so much anymore.
So, are you inspired to start your own recycling company yet? Do you think there can be better ways to upcycle trash and make it lucrative? Tell us in the comments and don’t forget to hit that like button if you enjoyed reading this article!