Do you want to start a recycling business and you want to know the cost? If YES, here is an estimated cost breakdown to build and open a recycling plant. Although this is a lucrative business, there are many upfront costs involved that cover for the location of the business, the recycling machinery as well as the human resources to run the machinery. In addition, you will need to fulfill other requirements to avoid being in the wrong side of the law.

You need to identify potential sources of fund that you can use for constructing your plant, buying the equipment needed, and paying operational costs at the initial stages before the business becomes self-sustaining. Consider contacting a couple of lenders to compare their terms and interest rates before submitting an application to your preferable lender.

You will also have to purchase the recycling equipment you need; this includes separators, shredders, granulators, breakers, a pre – washing system, a rinsing system, and dryers etc. Also consider creating an elaborate plan of how you will transport the waste from clients to the recycling plant. Your recycling plant may include providing bins for your customers to store waste as well as a moving truck for picking up the plastics and bringing them to your plant.

Estimated Cost Breakdown for Building a Recycling Plant

The exact cost of building a recycling plant depends on what type of materials you’ll be processing, and how you’ll be doing that processing. Although the cost of starting your own recycling plant may remain consistent in terms of what you need, expenses vary widely based upon how a business is operated. Note that having people drop recycling off at your facility is generally less expensive than curb-side pick-ups, due to the reduction in workers required for the task.

In addition, running a recycling plant without easy public accessibility will also be cheaper, since accessible real estate usually comes at a higher cost, but this can be problematic if you want people to bring their recycling in for treatment.

Nonetheless, consider these basic startup costs and shop around for the best deal:

1. Land Requirement: $120,000  –  $1,000,000

The demand of land depends on what scale your plant will operate. If you choose to operate a small scale recycling plant, then a 50 sq. feet room can also work. But if you choose a large scale recycling plant, then at least 200 to 500 sq. feet of land is required for the recycling process.

The land should have shades, closed space, large rooms, technical room and so on. You need to have a clean and closed space where you will keep your machine. All such closed rooms should be ventilated to avoid suffocation. A large space should be dedicated to dump plastic waste while a clean space is necessary to keep the recycled product.

2. Utilities: $90,000  –  $300,000

After you must have sorted out the location and land issues, note that you will need proper utilities to run your plant. The foremost thing you need is a proper electric connection. You should take the required connection based on your power demand. Another important thing is proper water supply. For emergency case you should keep a proper generator. The other utilities include parts related with recycling, small tools, machines, compressor, furniture, etc.

3. Machines for Recycling: $170,000  –  $2,000,000

You will also need to buy the required machines for recycling your waste. The wastes are first compressed and then melted using a machine. Then it is given small shapes and is then cooled down using cold water. The machine for this comes in many types.

Some machines have all-in-one features while some come in part. Also note that the machine you need will depend on what type of waste you are recycling and at what scale you are recycling. However, it would be better if you choose a large scale machine that has various features.

4. Technician and Labour: $140,000  –  $390,000 (First Year)

To properly execute all the process of recycling, you definitely need a technical mind plus man force. You will need to hire a technician who knows how to work with machines and recycle wastes. To save cost you can hire the technician for a while and after learning from him you can try it on your own. You can also take help from guides or you can do a short course on it. You should also hire some labour based on your requirement to carry out the job.

All in all, aside licenses and permits which will greatly differ according to location, you’re looking at approximately $600,000 to $4,000,000 to build a smoothly – operating recycling plant, which is why the EPA recommends finding backers from the community to offset initial fees.


When starting this business, the best way to estimate costs is by carrying out an initial study to determine the above options. However, when keeping costs low, it’s important to keep in mind that profits may suffer from those decisions.

Individuals are far less likely to participate in a recycling program and that forces them to come to you. While standard equipment will get the job done, electricity-saving equipment will reduce utility expenses later on, thereby increasing profits.

Solomon. O'Chucks