When we were children, our mothers told us to eat all of our food because wasting it was a sin. After all, there were children starving in Africa. As if our throwing away some disgusting liver was the cause of world hunger, most of us followed our mother's orders. This little anecdote illustrates the tremendous amount of waste people generate every year. What we consider junk ready for the trash pile, in other parts of the world, our discards are considered to be something quite useful.
Starting a business by re-purposing garbage is not as far-fetched as one might think. Most people have no objection to taking used soda bottles or aluminum cans and having them recycled. While it may not be very profitable to go through the process of picking cans up from the side of the road or from out of the dumpster, there is a market for selling scrap aluminum.
The problem most people face when trying to make a business out of recycling scrap metal, cardboard or other common materials is that collection and delivery costs are almost as much as the amount that the recycled material is worth. To gather 100 pounds of aluminum cans can take weeks or even months. It also takes up an awful lot of space - easily filling up the back of a pickup truck. Getting the garbage bags full of aluminum cans to the scrap metal yard requires one to spend money on gas and other related transportation costs. So, even if one can get .50 per pound for their aluminum, it will easily take that individual a minimum of 10 hours of work to gather, package and deliver the scrap. That means you are working for less than $5 per hour after expenses are deducted.
There are easier ways to turn one person's junk into another person's treasure. One way to do so is to go after garbage that has more value. Many people have built a good business by driving around and picking up old furniture that is being thrown out by the owner. Perfectly good couches and chairs are often thrown away because they have a tear in the upholstery or a small stain on the cushion. Others buy new furniture and just want to clear out their old things. If one is willing to fix a wobbly leg or scrub a dirty cushion, they can go into the used furniture business. It costs practically nothing to acquire used furniture and, with a little tender loving care, that used furniture can be restored to a condition that makes it a very saleable item.
Author's bio: Tom Marks is an engineer working with shipping containers and in his free time he likes to write articles on many useful and interesting topics.