Starting your own waste removal business might not sound like the most glamorous of ventures. But junk removal has some serious earning potential – on top of all of the other benefits of being your own boss.

Before you start though, you want to know what you’re getting into.

In this article, you’ll find out how junk removal companies make their money. What you need to start your new business. How much you should charge for your services. And everything else you need to know about starting your own waste removal business in the UK.

Do junk removal companies make money?

Yes. Junk removal can be a surprisingly profitable industry.

It can be difficult to get off the ground if you’re intending to be a solo entrepreneur. Some estimates say a 6-month or 12-month period or more is the benchmark for how long it can take to start really generating decent client figures. But once you’re rolling, many businesses find themselves able to expand.

Of course, with franchising and other options, this timeframe can be dramatically reduced.

How do junk removal companies make money?

On top of the removal fees they charge to their clients, junk removal companies can make money in a variety of ways:

  1. Recycling – some recycling centres will pay per load delivered. The prices which different centres offer vary, often according to shifts in the market. For example, scrap metals were previously a valuable item. But currently, they’re not in high demand.
  2. Transporting goods for recycling – some waste removal businesses have contracts to empty local private or public recycling bins and banks for bottles, cans, paper and so on.
  3. Selling high-value items – some items, such as mobile phones and other electronic devices, lead-acid batteries, printer cartridges, office furniture and even wooden pallets have a high value which makes collecting and selling them potentially profitable.
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How much should I charge for junk removal?

Covering your operating costs and making a profit should be your primary goals when setting your junk removal prices. You should also consider what the market will stand in terms of what your competitors are offering.

Junk removal prices also vary by parts of the country, the quantity of rubbish being removed and a variety of other factors such as:

  • Time taken – as you gain experience, you’ll quickly come to realise how much time certain things can add to a service. Is the waste properly bagged, for example?
  • Location – parking costs, distance from your base and so on.
  • Access – are there flights of stairs or narrow hallways, for instance?
  • Disposal costs – if you aren’t getting paid to recycle waste you collect, you need to find out what the disposal costs are likely to be and factor them in.
  • Type of rubbish – a customer wondering how much a basement cleanout costs will likely get a different quote to someone needing garden clearance, for example.

The average cost of rubbish removals in the UK is somewhere between £70 and £160. But this can go up or down depending on all of the above.

How much does it cost to start a junk removal business?

There are essentially two main costs of starting a junk removal business:

1) Waste removal equipment

You will need, at a minimum:

  • A vehicle – you can get a second-hand vehicle. Just make sure that it’s reliable, roomy and as fuel-efficient as possible.
  • Uniform – it doesn’t have to be much, but a professional appearance can go a long way. Something that is tough enough to withstand materials handling too. Thick gloves are pretty much a requirement both for safety and warmth during the winter.
  • Equipment – a broom is a good idea if you want to provide a tidy service. You might also need a shovel and perhaps a rake if you plan to remove soil, dirt, leaves or other debris.
  • Hands-free communications – you will want to be able to answer your phone and respond to customer enquiries while driving.

2) Insurance cover

Investing in a little insurance protection is a good idea. You should look into:

  • Public liability insurance (at minimum)
  • Employer’s liability insurance (a legal requirement in most cases if you have staff)
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Vehicle and equipment insurance

Do I need a license for waste removal?

Yes. In the UK, you need a license if you:

  1. Transport and dispose of waste
  2. Buy or sell waste
  3. Are a waste broker

A license currently costs £154 (and the fine is £5000 if you are found not to have one, so it’s definitely a smart idea to get one!). It’s quick and easy to register on the official UK government website at

What do junk haulers do with the junk?

This very much depends on the company.

These days, many junk haulers want to be known as a green recycling service and will prioritise sending as much of the junk they collect as possible to somewhere that isn’t a landfill. This can also be a more profitable approach as recycling centres will pay for some materials, whereas disposing of items can actually cost you money.

That said, many clients do not care what happens to their waste. They just want it gone. What you do with the waste you collect as a new hauler may depend on the quality and price-point of service you want to provide. In the UK in particular, recycling rates – i.e. the amount of junk which is hauled away which ends up being recycled – is lower than almost any other European country.

Some items – such as old vehicles or refrigerators – are required to be disposed of at certain facilities by law.

How to find customers

Most new waste removal companies will start by specialising in one particular area – household waste clearance, for example. You can then expand as your business does.

You also need to advertise your company. Your marketing should include:

  • Creating a website – the internet search has become perhaps the most popular way people search for waste removal services when they need one.
  • Local advertising – put ads in shop windows, local papers, magazines, and so on.
  • Leaflet drops – leaflet drops, sometimes backed up with knocking on local doors in person.
  • Word of mouth – let friends and family know that you’re starting a new business and let them get the word out.
  • Vehicle branding – your new waste removal truck can be a moving advert for your company.
  • Networking – property managers, Airbnb hosts and other real estate professionals make for great people to start networking with.
  • Social media – start with Facebook and proceed to other social media sites to promote your services.

Benefits of buying a waste removal franchise in the UK

The biggest decision when starting your own waste removal franchise is whether to go into business on your own or look into the various waste franchise opportunities on offer. There are several reasons why first-time business owners often choose to buy a franchise:

1) Recognisable brand

Starting your own business is an uphill struggle to achieve brand recognition. It is very difficult to distinguish yourself from all of the other small waste removal firms out there.

But when you are a franchise, you operate under a known brand name. This automatically attracts more customers. Plus, if you are part of a franchise like Fantastic Services, you also have clients found for you via the proven strategies of a marketing and sales team.

2) Support, training, and expertise

Going into your business on your means you have no one supporting you. If something goes wrong or you can’t work out how to do something – like get more customers – there is no one there to help.

As a franchisee, you and your entire team can get training. You also have extensive support and expertise to call on to overcome any difficulties.

3) Cost-effectiveness

A waste removal franchise certainly has an upfront cost in the form of the franchise fee. But this is often comparable to the start-up costs of any business. With a franchise, you also get all of the benefits of being part of a much larger network.

What else separates a waste franchise from a solo business?

Growth potential

As a solo business owner, every day can be a struggle just to find new clients to make ends meet and keep your business trading.

With a good franchisor, your waste franchise should be designed to grow from day one. As a franchisee, you’ll have a proven business concept and your franchisor’s entire central team working towards making your new business successful on your behalf.

The protection of a larger business

As a franchisee, you are your own boss. You have the same flexibility and control as any solo business owner.

But on top of that, you have the protection and clout that a larger business offers. You have the weight to negotiate with suppliers. Not to mention much more peace of mind than any other small business owner can imagine – just what you need in an economy like that of today.

This post was written by Fantastic Services and posted on their website here. They are an exhibitor on the FranchiseShow247 Cleaning & Domestic Services floor and you can visit their FranchiseShow247 exhibition stand here.