Summary The present research analyses recycling as a potential business activity, with a view to becoming an inclusive business (NI) led by recyclers. The aim is to determine whether the actors involved in the NI strategy, under the assumption of the Shared Value Creation (CVC), meet the criteria of genuine inclusion. This will be considered from a business and social point of view, verifying that recycling activity is inclusive, fair and whether, like NI, it contributes to sustainable development (SD). The study has a mixed approach, with a sequential exploratory design and non-experimental nature. It was developed in the city of Cuenca (Ecuador), where seven well-established recyclers associations were analysed. 161 recyclers participated, who were surveyed. In addition, a review of the legal framework governing the activity was carried out and the parameters to be met in order to qualify as NI contributing to SD were analysed. The results highlight the average level of inclusion of recyclers in their activity. Recycling has potential as NI, however, there are no suitable conditions, policies and ordinances that facilitate their conceptualisation and consolidation, nor do they meet the parameters set to align with DS and provide CVC.