I had the possibly unprofitable hypothetical idea of starting a mobile recycling business where a truck comes to you and pays you door-to-door for your recycling at below market prices. Can this be done legally in California?

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    Some municipalities have ordinances regarding exclusivity in hauling waste. It might be worth checking to make sure you aren't in conflict with those, as in some cases they may be written to give the waste hauler exclusivity with regard to commercial recycling. So the answer may change based on which city and county you are in. Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 2:35

2 Answers 2


At minumum, you're going to need local (and possibly state) businesses licenses, a business structure (like an LLC) that protects you and your employees from liability, and business insurance for you, employees and vehicles.

Specific to the recycling business, you may possibly a license or permit to buy and haul recyclables and to either process them in your own warehouse or storage area, and that may not be something you can get, depending on local and state laws dealing with trash and recycling companies.

Start with your local county/city business permit office to see what you need to do. Google for recycling companies in California and see what you can find out.


Can you buy second-hand goods in order to resell them at a profit in California? Yes.

See Dealing with "Is X (il)legal" questions

  • I didn't know if a licensed recycler could purchase below, possibly regulated, market rate. Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 1:10
  • In the case of recycling, this is obviously not applicable. They're not "second-hand goods". Laws can and do specify who can collect such material and how and what they must do with it.
    – user4657
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 21:07
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    @user4657 why is an old newspaper not a second-hand good? Commented Mar 20, 2023 at 16:04

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