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Environment

Recycling operative

Recycling operatives collect recyclables like glass, paper and plastics from homes and businesses for sorting at waste collection sites.

Annual Salary

£13,000 to £28,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

41 to 43 a week

You could work: early mornings;

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • emptying recycling boxes and wheelie bins into the collection vehicle
  • putting boxes and bins back and making sure that you have left no litter behind
  • using lifting machinery to help you lift and sort waste
  • checking that the right kind of materials have been put out for recycling
  • sorting waste and removing non-recyclable items
  • inspecting materials for any contamination
  • speaking to members of the public about recycling schemes
  • cleaning and maintaining equipment

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work at a waste recycling site or from a vehicle.

Your working environment may be dirty, physically demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
Apprenticeship

You can do an intermediate apprenticeship in sustainable resource management or as a waste resource operative.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
For more information
Direct application

You can apply to companies directly if you've got relevant skills and experience, for example from working in waste collection.

You may have an advantage if you've had forklift truck training or can drive a large goods vehicle.

More information

Career tips

An employer may give you training on the job, for example to get your large goods vehicle licence.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a recycling operative from Talent Source Network and the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board.

With qualifications and experience you could move into a supervisory role at a waste collection site.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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