Turning Trash into Cash

Think end-product. Key to getting into, and staying in, the business of recycling green and wood waste is developing markets for the material once it's processed.

“Anybody can go out, get a contract, and grind wood and green waste,” says Dan Brandon, marketing manager for Morbark Inc., Winn, Mich. “But our experience is that there's money to be made on the other end as well.”

To be profitable, companies grinding green and wood waste must fill a market niche within their geographic area. “You have to analyze your area and find out where you can sell the material,” Brandon says. “Then, figure out what material you want to sell.”

Some successful producers are selling their green and wood waste products to companies who turn around and merchandise the material to homeowners. These producers say it just takes a few simple steps to ensure they earn more for their product. Sometimes, all it takes is a little color.

“In certain areas of the country, particularly down in the Southeast and in Florida, producers are coloring mulch,” Brandon says. “A person might want to look at this because it can enhance the value of wood material several times over.”

“If you put color on it — pretty reds and various colors — you may be able to sell it through the landscapers and Home Depot-type places,” Brandon says.