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11-year-old Boy in California Runs a Successful Recycling Company


Ryan Hickman started his own recycling business just three years after visiting the local recycling center in Orange County, CA. When Ryan went with his dad to deliver some bags of cans and bottles. He immediately fell in love with recycling. In that moment, he knew he wanted to run his own recycling business to help the planet. So the day after visiting the center, Ryan told his parents about his plans.

He said he wanted to provide empty plastic bags to his neighbors in the hope that they would save the recyclables for him. All the neighbors ended up saving their cans for Ryan. And then he gathered his friends, family, and his parents’ co-workers. Now Ryan has customers throughout Orange County and his recycling business is doing better than ever. Spend a portion of each week sorting customer cans and bottles to prepare for the recycling center.

What Ryan says about the importance of recycling

“I have recycled over 1 million cans and bottles, and I started recycling when I was 3.5 years old. Now I’m 11, so it was 8 years of recycling, ”Ryan said.

He said that when his dad first took him to the recycling center, he fell in love with him and wanted to keep recycling. “It was fun and I saw that he was making a difference for the environment.”

Ryan told us that knowing all the recyclables he collects will help clean the environment inspires you to keep going.

“Every can and every bottle I recycle doesn’t end up in oceans, landfills, lakes, rivers, reservoirs or for animals to eat, get sick and die.”

According to Ryan, this is the time it takes for different materials to break down in the environment:

  • A can of soda – 9 years
  • Plastic bottle – 600 years
  • Glass bottle – 1 million years

He says that around 14% of the garbage in the oceans right now consists of these easily recyclable materials. It may seem overwhelming, but if we all do our part to recycle, we can greatly reduce the amount of garbage in our environment. Of course, reducing consumption overall will have the biggest impact, but we should always try to recycle and reuse what we use.

“What keeps me motivated to keep recycling is just getting letters and emails from around the world saying thank you and I’m still recycling,” Ryan says.

The encouragement of others keeps Ryan inspired to continue his search for clean the earthBut ultimately it comes from your own heart. He knew from a young age that he wanted to create a cleaner planet in some way, and that a recycling company was in his future. Now that he is the president of his company, he sees no end in sight or limits to what he can accomplish.

Spread the word: recycling is essential!

His advice to anyone who wants to raise awareness about the importance of recycling is to tell people that it does make a big difference. “If millions and millions of people recycle just one bottle or can, it will be millions and millions of bottles or cans recycled. Therefore, it is very easy to recycle. “

As with anything in life, when one person does a good deed, others seem to follow suit. You can see this in action with people who pay in advance at Starbucks and other restaurants. A person who creates a positive impact on the world sets off a chain reaction. And finally, others are inspired to join. Most people want to help in some way, but just don’t know where to start.

Ryan sets a positive example and drives the running of a successful recycling business. Plus, it shows the world that anyone can make a difference. When it comes to recycling, most cities provide recycling bins to residents, making it easy. However, if your city hasn’t already done so, you have other options.

Websites like can give you local recycling options when you enter your zip code. They also provide advice on best practices for handling recyclables so they don’t end up in the environment. Or you can take the bull by the horns like Ryan did and start your own recycling business! If you can do it at just 3 years old, anyone can do it with enough determination and love to clean up the planet.

In 2016 her story went viral and she has since been featured on news stations, websites, and radio stations around the world. Ryan has won many awards and accolades, including “2017 Citizen of the Year” for his hometown of San Juan Capistrano.

Some of Ryan’s other notable accomplishments include:

– be named one of the Most Influential People of 2017 by the Orange County Register
– in the list of the 15 best kids who are changing the world of MSN in 2018
– be on the Good Housekeeping list of 40 children who have changed the world in 2019 and 2020
– making the 2020 Reader’s Digest World’s Changing Decade Kids List
– appear in TIME magazine for kids, National Geographic and a WHIZ KID in OC Family Magazine
– being named CNN’s Young Wonder 2017
– appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show and has been on the Ryan Seacrest radio show
– appearing on ABC World News, Good Morning America, The Today Show, USA Today, Fox, CNN, NBC and more.

Ryan hopes to save for his college education. Plus, he hopes to save for a full-size garbage truck with the proceeds from recycling. If you want to help support your company’s volunteer efforts, you can purchase merchandise oron your website. If you live in Orange County and have recyclables for Ryan to pick up, schedule a pickup. You can also book an interview or request to appear, or just ask him questions about recycling in your area.

From their website:

“Thank you to all of Ryan’s friends around the world, his customers and family who have supported his ambitions and his hard work in recycling.”



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