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#1 of 31 Old 04-30-2012, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH is going to start a business this summer. It is offering a curbside pickup and sorting of recyclables. The recycling is already available, but we are going to try to be the middle-man, so to speak. DH spoke to someone in the city office and they said that the city has been trying to find someone to do this very thing for YEARS. We are going to call the local business development organization and see what we need to get started and how much they are willing to help via grants/loans.

 

The bonus is that DH makes 1/3 of my income and hates his job. My income would not change. DH is currently in school, but will not be taking classes over the summer. We would need to find/buy a pickup and get the bins, but both of those are relatively low-cost. We can jerry-rig most of the marketing with my marketing experience and Publisher.

 

The negative is that we aren't entirely certain what the interest is in this service. There seems to be a generally positive slant, but cost is very important to people and I'm afraid that when it comes down to actually pulling out their wallets, the interest will die. On the upside, if we get 20 participants, we will be bringing in the same income.

 

We are mostly concerned that we will a) have not enough participants, or b) the business will take off too fast for us to handle.

 

Any thoughts? Well-wishes are welcomed!


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#2 of 31 Old 04-30-2012, 06:40 PM
 
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Well around here recyclables are picked up with the trash, just a different bin. The city has a large sorting facility and everything is done via machines.   Recyclables are viewed as income to the city so are you 'buying' the recycle material from the city then 'selling' it to a recycle center?  I'm confused as to what exactly the business is and honestly why I as a resident would need the service.  As a resident I don't get billed separately for recycle vs trash pick up. If I start getting billed for recycle pick up, I can guarantee you I will be putting everything in trash.


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#3 of 31 Old 04-30-2012, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wish recycling was picked up for free here! No where in the state (that I know of) does recycling get picked up for free. I have a friend in the capitol city who pays to get his recycling picked up curbside. Everyone around here has to sort and deliver their recyclables... sometimes to another town!

 

This means that people here are more likely to just dump their recyclables in the trash, cuz that's already a free pick-up. However, there have been several cities in the state and around the country that have a private company that does curbside pickup and sorting for a fee. It's not as nice as a free service would be, but it's something. That's what we are planning on doing. We hope it will become very successful and the city/county/state will buy us and others out and make it a city/county/state provided service in the future.


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#4 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 01:11 AM
 
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Well what happens when folks but non recyclables in the recyclable bins?

Where are you going to be sorting all this stuff?

Who are you going to sell it to?

How do you charge?  By the bin, by the lb, by the X?

 

I am just seeing a huge episode of hoarders going wrong, if there is one little hiccup in the system.

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#5 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 06:53 AM
 
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Sounds like a huge endeavor, but if you can look to your near by counties and have the support of your own city, then that is a start!

 

Our county picks up our recyclables (at no cost to us, probably included in property taxes). They provide a blue bin for us to place our recyclables in and it goes out on trash day.

 

Maybe you can look into providing potential clients with bins as a starting point - good way to advertise, plaster your company name on the bins!


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#6 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 07:08 AM
 
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Sounds like a huge endeavor, but if you can look to your near by counties and have the support of your own city, then that is a start!

 

Our county picks up our recyclables (at no cost to us, probably included in property taxes). They provide a blue bin for us to place our recyclables in and it goes out on trash day.

 

Maybe you can look into providing potential clients with bins as a starting point - good way to advertise, plaster your company name on the bins!

YES! I was going to suggest the same as SunRise.

I think you use what our towns are doing (those that include a separate bin for recyclables) and get bins with your name/logo on them and provide these along with the pick up service. You'd be like a private trash service. We lived in a village once that didn't have city trash service, you had to call around to the 3 private services and hire them. One of the companies is Ray's, you might check them out online and call to ask questions, and I know one of the other companies had a special yard waste day once every two weeks or so. They all offered large item hauling for an extra fee as well.

If done properly, I can see how this might get beyond your abilities and you may find yourself looking for employees.

 

Good luck! I hope you come back to update on your progress with this endeavor.

 

p.s.

I meant to mention that, in our current town, we get two huge trash cans; a blue for recyclables and green for trash.You might offer the small bins for smaller homes or single person homes and a large trash can bin for larger families that have more to recycle. There's nothing like chasing a bunch of plastic bottles down the street on a windy day because the bin is too small for the household.

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#7 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 08:11 AM
 
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Hmm maybe it's because recycling is mostly free pickup here (or you can even drop off at places like Whole Foods) but I can't imagine residents paying to have their recycling picked up. What would be the advantage for them??? Unless you have a community of people who are both environmentally-conscious AND financially well-off, I think most people will just continue to throw everything in the trash since it's free.

Another thing to consider with a small-scale business like this is how much gas (& vehicle wear & tear) would cost and its environmental impact. If you can get whole neighborhoods to sign up, you'd be fine, but if your clients are all spread out over several towns, that's going to be a lot of driving around for little pay-off.

Could you start by canvasing people in your target area? Ask them how much they would be willing to pay to have recycling pickup. I might even go as far as getting customers to sign up before you actually start the company, to make sure you truly have interest.

Also, would the city be willing to pay you to do this? That sounds like the more likely source of income.

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#8 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 11:20 AM
 
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I don't think anyone has "free" recycling pick up, it's budgeted into your total price. We happen to pay one bill to the city which most people call "the water bill" but it's water, sewer, trash, and recycling. Some areas, like the village we just moved from, don't take as strong a stand and offer recycling pick up service but don't make it a part of their regular trash service.

Some areas do subsidize a portion of your trash/recycling but still have a bill. Recycling isn't "free" in this case either.

OP- I'd think you can use some of these opinions and ideas as a part of your marketing.
 

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#9 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 11:56 AM
 
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I don't think anyone has "free" recycling pick up, it's budgeted into your total price. We happen to pay one bill to the city which most people call "the water bill" but it's water, sewer, trash, and recycling. Some areas, like the village we just moved from, don't take as strong a stand and offer recycling pick up service but don't make it a part of their regular trash service.
Some areas do subsidize a portion of your trash/recycling but still have a bill. Recycling isn't "free" in this case either.
OP- I'd think you can use some of these opinions and ideas as a part of your marketing.

 

In our area it is free... I mean, obviously we pay taxes to the town (pretty high taxes, at that) but there is no separate fee for trash or recycling (both of which are regular services for all residents). We aren't hooked in to sewers and our water bill really is for incoming water only. So I don't think that's true in all areas...

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#10 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 12:05 PM
 
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In our area it is free... I mean, obviously we pay taxes to the town (pretty high taxes, at that) but there is no separate fee for trash or recycling (both of which are regular services for all residents). We aren't hooked in to sewers and our water bill really is for incoming water only. So I don't think that's true in all areas...

 

True dat. Same for my county. Our water bill is strictly water usage.  Sewer charge, a water charge, sweeping are incorporated in to property taxes.


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#11 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 12:12 PM
 
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Honestly, it doesn't sound very well thought out yet.

 

Are you sure that a pickup truck is going to be appropriate and adequate for what you're planning to do?  A lot of recyclable material is very lightweight, and prone to blowing away, you won't be making anyone happy if your business involves blowing bottles, soda cans, and phone bills all over the road (also, you can expect to be ticketed for it).

 

Have you priced out insurance on that vehicle, given its intended use?

 

Have you looked at what taxes you'd owe on income from self-employment?

 

Are there any regulations that would apply to this business?  What does compliance with those regs require?

 

What cushion do you (or would you) have to cover the time between first service and receipt of payment from first billing?  How are you going to bill your customers?  How are you going to receive and process payments? 

 

It is very unlikely that local government would buy you out if they decided to provide recycling services themselves - there's just no reason for them to do it.  More likely, they'd arrange expanded services with whoever does trash pickup already.  So you wouldn't get bought, you'd get the same notice that all the other state/city/county residents get, which is not a lot of warning to have that your income is gone.

 

It is my experience that fantastic commercial opportunities don't just sit and rot, so when you run across something like this - the city has been trying to find someone to offer curbside recycling pickup, but no one does it - you have to ask yourself what's up.  Why has no one else taken up this opportunity?  It's a tough economy, I assure you that other people have thought of it.  Who does trash pickup in your area?  Is trash pickup done by the local sanitation department, or is that work contracted out?  Are there connections between the local sanitation services and organized crime?  Waste management and restaurants are the two business types most likely to have that kind of connection.

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#12 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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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!


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#13 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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Has he considered metal recycling? The service to the customer would be free and then he would sell the metal to a junk yard. 

 

We have 'free' curbside pickup for our recyclables but we don't put out cans, we usually do a trip to the junk yard once a year with them and other scrap as a small part of our income. In our area we have a lot of guys always on the lookout for cars, fridges, washers, etc... They strip and sell the metal.

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#14 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 12:59 PM
 
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There are businesses in my community like that- competing ones in fact so it must be well-thought out enough for it to work here. I'm actually just about to ask my dh to get us a curb bin because I am sick sick sick of the grown-over piles of recyclables in my laundry room that need to go to the big bins.

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#15 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 01:08 PM
 
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The city doesn't already pick up recylables? We had some level of pick up for at least 15 years. Now they even take the super weird plastics. The same company that picks up trash usually has the contract. Makes a tidy profit for the city.

 

In our area, people do something similar but it is techincally illegal. The evening before and morning of trash pickup it seems like an army of trash pickers come out and take the more valuable reyclables. Usually undomented people with stolen supermarket shopping carts. They work very quickly and are generally neat and not noisy. The city looses a lot of money from it and occasionally with do mass ticketing and shopping cart retrieval. Most of the city residents don't care. It is obviously hard and dirty work and most people respect them for it.

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#16 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 02:33 PM
 
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Not to beat this to death but...No one is getting truly free pick up. The money's coming from somewhere and the illusion of free pick up is there but we all still pay for it one way or another. I wouldn't want the OP to get the impression that this service might not be legitimate simply based upon the fact that some towns/cities/counties/etc have subsidized pick up.

Currently our trash pick up and recycling pick up is partially subsidized so our "water bill" is less than it would be if pick up weren't subsidized but I pay taxes therefore, I pay for the pick up service.
 

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I think it sounds very doable and it's a great idea! I think you'll be successful ~ just take it as it comes and make sure to be flexible enough to change plans or your approach if you need to.
 

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#18 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 05:22 PM
 
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Have you surveyed local businesses and other organizations to find out what their unmet recycling needs are?  Because getting a couple of bigger customers from the start might really help the business get off the ground.

 

Also, if he's going to handle recyclables in any quantity, he should probably look into how to actually process/sell them himself, instead of just giving everything to the recycling center.  This could lead to direct competition with the recycling center.  But it also opens up the possibility of handling larger recycling drives for civic group fundraisers.

 

I'm not seeing how your husband could make as much as his current income with only 20 customers.  I think your best bet is to keep the initial business plan simple, and be willing to learn and adapt to the actual market reality.  More research on what other people in other cities have been able to do with a similar business might also be enlightening.

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#19 of 31 Old 05-01-2012, 06:48 PM
 
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our area has free recycling curbside via blue bin as well. Which is pretty silly because if you take your recycle to the recycling center they pay you for the recycle.  Seems they should be paying us for the blue bin contents instead of picking up for "free".

 

Why don't you offer your curbside pickup for free then take it to the recycling center and get paid for it. I'm sure tons of people would participate if it was a free service.


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#20 of 31 Old 05-02-2012, 07:20 AM
 
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our area has free recycling curbside via blue bin as well. Which is pretty silly because if you take your recycle to the recycling center they pay you for the recycle.  Seems they should be paying us for the blue bin contents instead of picking up for "free".

 

Why don't you offer your curbside pickup for free then take it to the recycling center and get paid for it. I'm sure tons of people would participate if it was a free service.

 

Of course tons of people would participate if it was a free service, but could the OP and her husband afford to do it on that basis?  For one, they'd need to start with bigger vehicles, and probably some employees.  The startup costs to a small business that doesn't already have equipment would be gigantic.

 

I have free curbside pickup of recycling.  I am pretty sure that the pickup is making money somehow, and that I could have some of that money myself if I sorted my own recycling and took it in myself, but the fact is, if I didn't have curbside pickup, I probably wouldn't recycle at all.  It would be another dratted weekend errand.  I doubt that carting my recyclables to the transfer station would pay enough to make me feel that it was a better use of my time than taking the kids to the library.  There are plenty of local businesses making money off me because they help me free up the time to take my kids to the library, if another one were to appear on the horizon, I would great them with glee, and money.  In that sense, this is an awesome business idea - a lot of people want to recycle!  They just don't have the time to take care of it themselves.  The question is whether OP and her husband have worked out enough of a plan, not whether the idea is a good one.

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#21 of 31 Old 05-02-2012, 08:26 AM
 
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We used to have recycling with our trash pick up, but not anymore- most areas quit following Katrina. (As a previous poster said, no one has free pick up- the bill for it is included with something else- taxes, trash and sewer, etc.). Now we can drop it off a few times a year, but that's about it. Depending on the cost, which the OP didn't mention, I know many people who would particiapte. Even if it were only once a month. But I agree that the idea doesn't seem very well planned out at this point. For him to equal his current income with only twenty participants, how much would you be charging??

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#22 of 31 Old 05-02-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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I highly recommend checking out SCORE, a non-profit that focuses on helping people launch small businesses. Here's their website, which include how to find a chapter in your area: http://www.score.org/

 

When my partner was working on opening a videography business a number of years ago, she got some excellent mentoring, and I'm pretty sure it was free. Basically, you're able to get advice from retired business owners and leaders.

 

Also, find out if the Business School at your nearest public university has a small business development unit. Often there are free or low cost workshops, training sessions, and/or mentoring available.

 

Starting a business is exciting, but you'd be crazy to do it without a solid business plan that includes projected budgets, a marketing plan, market research from your community, etc. A business plan is really helpful (if not downright required) in order to get a loan from a bank or money from a grant.

 

Good luck!

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#23 of 31 Old 05-03-2012, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I highly recommend checking out SCORE, a non-profit that focuses on helping people launch small businesses. Here's their website, which include how to find a chapter in your area: http://www.score.org/

Thanks for the link!

 

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Starting a business is exciting, but you'd be crazy to do it without a solid business plan that includes projected budgets, a marketing plan, market research from your community, etc. A business plan is really helpful (if not downright required) in order to get a loan from a bank or money from a grant.

We just finished up the business plan. We have a marketing plan in process (I am experienced with marketing) and we've found a significant amount of demographic information that supports our idea.

 

DH just got an email from the local County Development organization to set up a meeting. At that point, they will be discussing permits, subsidization, grants, etc. We are also collecting information to find out if the local recycling centers even pay (I've never heard of anyone getting paid around here - even for cans!) and/or if we would be able to work out a deal with them.

 

We are still in the planning stages of this, but it is certainly NOT a poorly thought-out plan. Most of what you've brought up, we've already covered.

 

Additionally, I'm very glad that so many of you have your recycling taken care of as part of your civil services. Unfortunately, the rural mid-west/plain area is not quite so progressive. That is why we think the service will take off... people WANT to recycle, but they don't want to do the work of it. As I said before, in the state capital, they PAY to have the ability to recycle. This is not a new or unique idea, by any means.


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#24 of 31 Old 05-03-2012, 07:27 PM
 
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I can't believe how many people are saying they would throw out their recyclables if it was not picked up for free at their curb. As someone who lives in a town without curbside pickup, and summers in another town without curbside pickup, I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of people willing to drive their recyclables to the dump. I think it is hard to imagine doing it if you are not used to the errand.
OP - good luck!!!

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#25 of 31 Old 05-04-2012, 03:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfcat View Post

Thanks for the link!

 

We just finished up the business plan. We have a marketing plan in process (I am experienced with marketing) and we've found a significant amount of demographic information that supports our idea.

 

DH just got an email from the local County Development organization to set up a meeting. At that point, they will be discussing permits, subsidization, grants, etc. We are also collecting information to find out if the local recycling centers even pay (I've never heard of anyone getting paid around here - even for cans!) and/or if we would be able to work out a deal with them.

 

We are still in the planning stages of this, but it is certainly NOT a poorly thought-out plan. Most of what you've brought up, we've already covered.

 

Additionally, I'm very glad that so many of you have your recycling taken care of as part of your civil services. Unfortunately, the rural mid-west/plain area is not quite so progressive. That is why we think the service will take off... people WANT to recycle, but they don't want to do the work of it. As I said before, in the state capital, they PAY to have the ability to recycle. This is not a new or unique idea, by any means.

 

 The bold part is key to your business plan - necessity is the mother of invention! Good luck at the meeting and hopefully you get the information you need to move forward.


Sara - Mum to C (10/02) ; m/c 10/07; 7/08; 3/09; Lucy Olive Feb 28, 2010 !
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#26 of 31 Old 05-05-2012, 09:34 PM
 
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Good luck! With the right demographics, your plan could be really successful. We paid to have our glass picked up in the last town we lived in. I believe it was a one man operation. He supplied a bin and charged $20 a month. If we had more glass than fit in the bin, then we were charged more. I think if you supply a trash can and pick the recycling up weekly then it would be a doable service. The person who picked up our glass sorted on-site. Would your current vehicles tow a trailer? My husband has a truck and dump trailer (he's in construction) and the trailer holds much more than the truck and was more affordable.   


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#27 of 31 Old 05-12-2012, 07:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Update:

 

DH had a meeting with the Exec. Director of the City Development Corp (CDC). She said it's a great idea; we have a great start on the plans; she will help us find out about permits, etc.; she will do everything in her power to get us WHATEVER funding we need, including if we need to get a building. Oh, and the CDC will be one of our customers.

CI Mama likes this.

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#28 of 31 Old 05-12-2012, 08:01 PM
 
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Heck yeah. That sounds fantastic! Right on!

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#29 of 31 Old 05-12-2012, 08:25 PM
 
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That's awesome!! Best of luck!!

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#30 of 31 Old 05-12-2012, 08:46 PM
 
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congrats! keep us posted


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