Orange County Kid Turns Recycling Into $50,000 Business
A San Juan Capistrano boy loves recycling so much, he’s turned it into a business. Nine-year-old Ryan Hickman started Ryan’s Recycling when he was just three. That’s right, three years old. After he recycled a couple of bags of bottles and cans and earned $5.00, his dad Damion Hickman said Ryan was hooked.
“He announced the next day after we did it that he was starting his own business and I thought it was funny, ” Damion said. Ryan convinced neighbors to give him all of their recyclables. He even does free pickups in his own ride – a motorized toy truck.
According to CalRecycle, the state’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, recycling rates have fallen below 80% for the first time in a decade. The department says about 1.7 million fewer containers are now being recycled compared to five years ago. Almost 1,000 neighborhood redemption centers like the one Ryan goes to have closed in the past five years. One reason could be because a few years ago the state started providing less money to centers to process containers.
Not only is Ryan’s business helping to address the falling recycling rate, sales of Ryan’s Recycling merchandise such as shirts – have helped him donate more than $8,000 to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. For every container under 24-ounces – he earns a nickel. He doubles his earnings for larger ones. Nearly every weekend, he takes a large load to his local recycling center. Ryan gets pretty excited when he gets to drop off his haul at the recycling center because it’s payday, and he knows without his efforts, it could take a long time for containers to decompose. “600 years!” he said.
During a recent haul, Ryan made $120.73. So far, he’s saved up more than $50,000 and he’s not done. He hopes to one day buy a real-life garbage truck, so Ryan’s recycling can expand. To this date, Ryan has recycled more than 83,000 pounds of cans and bottles. He says he’ll retire when he’s about 90.