How to Start a Waste Management Business

June 4, 2023
5 min read

The world’s population produces around 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste annually. According to Statista, experts forecast that this amount will increase to around 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050. As such, there is a huge, never-ending demand for waste management services, leaving plenty of opportunities open in the industry. 

If you’re looking to get into waste management, keep reading to learn about the benefits and the steps to follow in order to start a waste management business. 

The Benefits of Starting a Waste Management Business

Here are the main benefits to starting a waste management business:

High Demand and Profit Potential

There is always going to be a need for waste management, removal, and disposal services in both the commercial and residential sectors. Because of this demand, waste management businesses can be quite profitable.

By offering professional and convenient waste management services, clients are likely to continue using your services, which means recurring revenue for your business. 

Positive Environmental Impact

A waste removal business can have a substantial impact on conservation and pollution reduction. 

Firstly, there is potential for recycling and reusing waste products. With recycling, new opportunities, such as reclaiming plastic, metal, paper, and glass, can bring in more money as recycled materials often have a higher resale value. This means less waste is sent to landfills and more waste is recycled.

Secondly, waste management companies dispose of waste responsibly, which is important for minimizing the contamination of landfills. 

So, by starting a waste management business, you can contribute to a greener economy.

Job Creation

Another important benefit of starting a waste management business is that you will create jobs. You will need to hire drivers, administrative staff, and other workers to run your business and all its services. This creates job opportunities for people in your local community. 

A Step-By-Step Guide on How to Start a Waste Management Business

1. Choose Your Specialization/Field

There are numerous fields within waste management and you need to decide which field your business will serve. Your specialization or niche within the waste industry will then guide your business plan and service offering.

Waste management fields to consider are:

  • Municipal waste management 
  • Industrial/commercial waste management
  • Construction waste management
  • Organics waste management
  • Hazardous and medical waste management
  • Animal waste management
  • Green waste management
  • Electronic waste management 

Choosing a field can be difficult so the best thing is to look at your budget, the equipment you’ll need, business complexity, growth potential, and the pros and cons of each field. You also need to focus on the area you want to service, such as the residential or commercial sectors.

2. Conduct Market Research

The next step is to conduct market research and find out who the competitors in your field are and what they offer. This enables you to identify gaps in the market and differentiate your business from those competitors. 

Market research will help you analyze the services already being offered in your area and allow you to pinpoint potential customer segments. From here, research your customers, including their requirements and preferences with regard to waste management services. This allows you to understand what you can provide in order to meet their needs.


3. Create a Business Plan

A business plan or business outline is essential for the success of your waste management business. It will enable you to stay focused and achieve your goals for the business.

In the business plan, focus on the following: 

  • Business mission statement
  • Corporate structure (partnership, sole proprietorship, LLC, or incorporation)
  • Management structure
  • Tangible goals to track progress
  • Customer base and pain points
  • Competitors and how you differentiate
  • Startup costs, budget, and financial projections
  • Marketing strategies
  • Plans for growth 
  • Special considerations (licenses and tenders)

Defining all of these elements provides clarity on how your waste management business will operate.

4. Register Your Business and Apply for the Relevant Permits and Licenses

You need to register your business with the local or federal government in order to get the documentation required to operate a waste management business, such as licenses, bank accounts, and certifications. 

When registering, you will need to decide on your business structure. Some of the most common structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability corporation (LLC)
  • Corporation

You will then need to apply for access to disposal sites and follow the relevant environmental compliance documents. These will differ depending on what state or country you’re operating in. 

Obtaining a tax number will also be required for official contracts and to set up your business finances. 

In addition, your fleet will need to be equipped with the correct equipment – and vehicles can only be purchased in the company name once it’s a registered company. 

Note that medical waste transportation companies need special licenses. These licenses can also only be issued to registered businesses. 

5. Get Business Insurance

Insuring your business is essential to avoid personal liability. Obtain insurance for public liabilities, such as if your truck overturns and spills waste on a local street. 

Other types of liabilities that business insurance will protect you from include: 

  • General liabilities: General liability insurance will cover you and your business against lawsuits, civil suits, and more.
  • Business property insurance: Your business premises are where waste gets processed or stored. It’s also where you keep your trucks. Assets, when not in operation, will need to be insured. This helps protect you against financial loss if a fire breaks out or in the case of theft. 
  • Commercial auto insurance: When your trucks are on the road, you need commercial auto insurance. This type of insurance may be required by law for certain business vehicles. Having auto insurance protects you if your truck is in an accident or stolen. 
  • Worker’s compensation insurance: Your business needs staff to help run the business. These team members must be insured against injury or loss.
  • Equipment breakdown insurance: The waste management industry requires heavy equipment, which needs to be insured. Equipment insurance protects your company against loss caused by breakdowns, fire, or vandalism.
  • Professional liability insurance: With most professions, it’s important to insure yourself and your business against claims of incompetence and negligence. 
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): Some insurers have comprehensive all-in-one insurance that covers diverse business needs. However, know exactly what you are signing up for when you choose a policy. 

6. Funding and Investment

Most startup companies require capital investment. Some methods to fund your waste management business include: 

  • Banks
  • Third party investors
  • Government contracts
  • Crowdfunding
  • Self-funding the business by selling property or personal investments

The waste management industry is very capital-intensive – you will need to purchase trucks, containers, and other equipment.

You’ll also need to hire specialized drivers, pay licensing fees, and secure a waste disposal site for waste processing.

7. Open A Business Bank Account

Any business will require a business account with a reputable bank. You’ll need a valid and up-to-date tax record to open a business account.

It’s a good idea to engage the services of a professional accountant. They will assist you with filing taxes and applying for tax clearance or auditing certificates as needed. 

Ensure you bring your company license and social security number to open the account at your preferred bank.

8. Purchase Equipment

Determining what waste your company will dispose of will tell you what tools you need. For example, when disposing of liquid waste, you will use different tools and equipment than when disposing of solid or hazardous waste. 

Consider the equipment needed to pick up, haul, offload, and process waste, and list all the equipment your business needs for daily operations.

Important equipment you may need include:

  • Dumpsters: Ensure the waste you collect is stored in a non-environmentally hazardous way. Supplying dumpsters of an appropriate size is an important aspect of your business. 
  • Garbage trucks: You’ll need to decide the type of garbage trucks that will be suitable for your waste management business and how many you’ll need. 
  • Carts or Totes: If your business removes residential, commercial or industrial waste, your clients may need carts or totes to store different kinds of waste for removal. These carts will also need to be repaired and serviced as needed.
  • Hauling containers: Heavy containers need to be lifted onto flatbed trucks so you’ll have to buy the right containers for your trucks.
  • Equipment for collection and transportation: Hydraulic lifts help haul heavy containers onto your trucks for removal. 
  • Open-top containers and compactors: Open-top containers and compactors help move and process a significant volume of waste. If you also process the waste, you’ll require a conveyor belt system to sort through waste before correctly disposing of it. 

Before you purchase your equipment, research vendors that supply the equipment you need and get comparative quotes. Also look at discounts or special offers to help you stay on budget. 

Lastly, you’ll want to invest in a good waste management software solution, like Basestation, to streamline and simplify your operations.

9. Hire Staff

Hire appropriate and qualified staff. They will be the backbone of your business so you want to be careful during the hiring process to ensure you’re getting the right people for the job.  

Your employees should be able to communicate well and provide professional customer service to ensure clients have a positive experience with your company. Remember, customer service can make or break a business. 

Drivers should have the required driving licenses for the vehicles they drive or operate. This helps ensure full compliance with local or state laws. 

10. Build an Online Presence

Your business is only as good as its brand. To be successful, create a brand that clients can identify with and support. Once you have defined your brand identity, it’s important to take the business online. 

Ensure you have a well-designed, local SEO-optimized website that outlines your services and how to get in touch with your business. Your website can also be used to educate the communities you work in, and it’s where you will highlight your unique value proposition. Advertise deals, freebies, and offers like free disposal units, garbage bags, or school initiatives to areas your company services.

It’s also important to create a business listing on Google My Business so that potential clients can easily find your services when Googling. Another way to build your online presence is by featuring your company in online directories, such as Yelp.

11. Market Your New Waste Management Business

In business, marketing is vital to your company’s return on investment (ROI). Market your services, ensuring you are the first waste management service provider to come to mind when people want to hire a company. 

Investigate your ideal customers to find out what they want, but also study your competitors to get an advantage. Then you can develop advertising campaigns and monitor their performance to see which work well and which don’t. This helps you to refine your advertising strategies and improve future campaigns.

Also put some effort into social media channels where clients and prospects can follow you and keep up to date with your business. Through platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can reach more people by creating engaging content that interests your target audience. It’s also very easy to run paid campaigns on social media to enhance your visibility and reach.  

12. Maintain Compliance and Keep Clients Happy

Once your business is set up and in operation, it’s essential to keep everything running smoothly.  This includes ensuring you are always maintaining compliance with relevant regulations and policies. Your licenses will need renewal and employees need refresher courses in different equipment and tasks.

Lastly, focus on providing outstanding customer service to all your clients to ensure they keep coming back. This means providing timely customer support as needed and using the right tools and systems to ensure clients can easily access information on their service.


With the necessary preparation and groundwork, along with a clear focus on your particular target market, it’s possible to bring all of the above-listed elements together to achieve success for your business.

To elevate your operations, ensure you use the latest and most efficient waste management software, such as Basestation. Basestation will save you time, keep you organized, and reduce administrative headaches with our user-friendly and all-in-one software solution for the waste management industry. To learn more about Basestation, book a demo today, and let us show you how we can help streamline your hauling operations.