Eco-Friendly Business Trends in 2016


Eco-friendly businesses have been booming in recent years, in spite of a not-always-friendly general economy. The green energy industry and other green business ventures have done unexpectedly well so far in 2016, and forecasts are that the future will be "even greener."

As in other areas of the U.S. economy, franchises have been especially strong in the green energy/products/services market, the name recognition of established green brands and the support infrastructure that franchises enjoy (as compared with new start-ups) working to their advantage. 

Below, we look at some of the hottest-trending green businesses of 2016 under the "Three R's" rubric of reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Green Energy Trends That "Reduce" Emissions

There are two basic ways to reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions that result as a byproduct of energy production. Either an energy-saving device or power management system must be installed or an alternate, renewable energy source must be resorted to. The renewable energy sector surged the first half of 2016, and the green energy industry in general is also on the rise.

Some of the most promising business trends of the green energy industry for 2016 and beyond are:

  • LED lighting, which provides both commercial and residential users with 50% to 70% potential energy consumption reduction — 80% if combined with "smart" control systems. LED bulbs increase efficiency and last longer than other options. From 0.3% of the lighting industry in 2010, LEDs have surged to 18%.
  • Solar panels are rapidly becoming commonplace and are much more efficient than were past models. Photo-voltaic panel installation jumped by 45% in 2015, and growth in 2016 looks to be similar. Marketing, installing, and repairing solar panels is big business in 2016, and operating a solar power bank is yet another option.
  • Re-charge stations for electric cars are beginning to become a viable business venture in 2016. Sales of electric cars are up, new technologies are making them increasingly practical, and the demand for charging stations will only continue to grow. 
  • Energy-efficiency audits of homes/businesses are more in-demand than ever. The rise of hydro, wind, and solar energy sources and the abundance of energy-saving devices/systems means that assistance in minimizing energy costs and environmental impacts is both valuable and necessary.

Top Trends That "Reuse" Instead of Throw Away

Manufacturing new products takes far more energy than simply reusing (or recycling) old ones. While most products are capable of being reused, some market areas trending in 2016 are:

  • Used book stores, which save both energy and trees. With sales mostly online and e-books offered as well, it is fairly easy to enter this industry.
  • Used electronics sales, especially of smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. These items can be refurbished and retain much of their value upon resale, while saving consumer money and reducing new manufactures.
  • Bicycle repair shops, with new sales included as well. "Pedal power" has become popular for its exercise value and because it has zero emissions.
  • Ink refilling allows the re-use of print cartridges (hazardous when thrown in a land fill). Savings are substantial for businesses that print large amounts daily, providing a stable, high-volume customer base for investors. 

Most Lucrative "Recycle" Trends in 2016

Recycling has long constituted a major industry and can greatly benefit the environment, save consumers money, and provide a lucrative business for entrepreneurs. In 2016, the most attractive recycling opportunities were:

  • Paper bag recycling, which results in products that more easily decompose, saves retailers money, and attracts eco-conscious customers.
  • Cardboard recycling, which not only produces new cardboard but other items like folders and books. Tax rebates are usually available for these types of businesses.
  • Plastic bottles, which are recycled into a plethora of products besides new bottles, including plastic bags, furniture, and toys. Many soft drink companies will contract for recycled bottles because they are cheaper.
  • Glass recycling, whether of bottles or other glass products. Broken glass/used bottles (your raw materials) come free, maximizing profit potential.

Record Growth in the Green Industry

Green energy industry and other green companies are seeing record growth and profitability in 2016. Markets for green products exist all over the U.S. and worldwide, and franchises make it easier than ever to get the training, support, and financing you need to get started.

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