In my area we do not have free recycling. If you want to recycle, there are drop off points in the bigger towns, or you can go out to individual recycling plants to do drop offs. The only main draw back that I would see is that in my area when you recycle things like aluminum, tin, and copper at the recycling plants you get paid for the materials. Usually not a large sum, but enough that it makes a few extra couple of bucks over the gas it takes to get to those places.
Like, I have a can crusher outside of my back door that drops the cans into a huge trashcan that I line with the big black leaf bags. Whenever that gets filled up DH puts the bag in the back of the truck and runs them to the aluminum recycling place. Depending on the price of aluminum at that point we usually receive 15-25 bucks for a HUGE bag filled with crushed and compacted cans. If I were to hire your services then I would have to PAY for something that I would be otherwise be MAKING money on.
The flip-side of this would be that there are some people who don't have pick up trucks, and there are those that feel it would be a hassle to take the recycling themselves. (It only takes 20 minutes to get from one side of my town to the other, and there are people here who complain about a 5 minute drive to a certain store... "It's sooo far.") So, maybe if you target your advertising to these sorts of people, then you may get some results.
If this were my area and my business venture, I would put a flyer or business card in the door of all the upscale neighborhoods, and people more centrally located in town that do not have pick-up trucks in their driveways. Additionally, I like the idea of the business name on the bins, and I would come up with a fancy slogan that indicated that having your recycling picked up was a status symbol kind of thing. Unfortunately, not everyone "goes green" for the right reasons. Some people see buying a more fuel efficient vehicle, or recycling as an "I'm better than you" thing. I would capitalize on that and try and get the hoity-toity crowd to get in on it first and create a trickle down effect throughout the community. The people who are crunchy won't care what the slogan is, or how it's interpreted if they feel like they're doing the best for their family and environment. It's the other crowd that you would have to "work."
As far as what you put into it at the outset, I would be wary of the amount you are willing to put out to start this endeavor. You say you don't have a pick-up truck yet. Obviously that's going to have to be your first investment. If you're trading one of your current vehicles in to make this investment, then it's not so bad. But, you also are going to have to realize that you may get some calls about some MUCH larger things than even just a pick-up truck can haul. What about people tearing down old metal carports and outbuildings? If you were going to get a pick-up truck just for the business as a separate business vehicle, then I might look into something larger like a dump truck. The kind with the motorized beds that lift up to dump are REALLY useful if it's only going to be your hubby doing the unloading. It would for sure be a larger investment at the outset, but try pricing out rental of the same vehicle for a few days, and you should see the value saved overall.
When it comes to advertising, again, look at the overall costs, not just the first batch. Sure, an ink cartridge, and a pack of paper may not sound like a bad deal at $50 bucks to make your first batch of 100 flyers... but it is when you consider that it's then $0.50 a flyer. However, if you go to a local print shop you can usually find that they will give you a deal on business cards and flyers that you just cannot replicate when printing at home. (More like 5-10 cents a flyer.) I'm not telling you not to DESIGN them at home. Definitely do all of that, and save yourself some wicked cash there. But, when it comes to printing, shop around and see where the good deals are. You might start off with vinyl stickers for your bins. That's not a bad thing, but I would eventually plan on getting your logo and slogan printed directly ON the bins. Also, I would look into magnetic signs for the sides and back of Hubby's work vehicle. They will really increase visibility throughout your area. Again, a local print shop should be able to take care of all of this for you. I would start off with business cards, bin stickers, and magnetic business signs for the vehicle. After that I would think about newspaper advertisements, work shirts for hubby to wear when picking up the recycling, flyers, printed bins, and then finally promotional items like fridge magnets for your customers.
Sorry for writing you a novel. These are just my initial thoughts on the idea. I don't think it's a bad one. If hubby would be happier doing this kind of thing, and both you AND the city office see a value in the service you guys are going to provide, then more power to you. You'll have to let us all know how it goes!
Edited by MamaInTheDesert - 5/1/12 at 2:27pm