Tuesday, 23rd April 2019


Refuse collectors and recycling operatives can have very similar job roles, as more local councils are increasing their recycling operations. Many different household materials can now be recycled, separating what once was all disposed of in the same way. Generally both jobs involve collecting general refuse and recycling from homes and businesses and disposing of them at designated facilities.

Every home and business will expect their bins and recycling to be collected routinely as a result of paying council tax. Local councils are responsible for making sure that this service is provided on-time and efficiently. However, the role of refuse collectors and recycling operatives is not limited to simply collecting rubbish on time, but also promoting recycling operations and helping the public to reduce their household waste.

Typical duties of refuse collectors and recycling operatives include the following:

  • Travelling around local areas in the vehicle on a specific route
  • Moving and carrying full bin bags, wheelie bins and boxes
  • Operating the lifting mechanism to tip waste into the lorry
  • Correctly emptying rubbish into the back of the lorry
  • Using the machine to crush the waste
  • Sorting recyclable materials correctly and inspecting materials for contamination
  • Replacing bins and recycling boxes neatly where found
  • Communicating with the public about correct recycling
  • Handing out timetables or pamphlets
  • Assisting the driver safely around the streets
  • Unloading the waste at designated facilities
  • Recording levels of waste collected
  • Cleaning and maintaining the vehicle

With more experience, refuse collectors may be put in charge of driving the vehicle, where they would need to manoeuvre the vehicle safely and without causing too much traffic disruption. Refuse collectors and recycling operatives are primarily employed by local councils with the intention of reducing the amount of waste by promoting better recycling methods and services. A big part of the job is to set an example of what good recycling practice involves, and encouraging the reduction of household and business waste.

The job is physically demanding, with a lot of heavy lifting and manual labour. The conditions can be challenging, collecting refuse is inevitably dirty work but supplies and work-wear will often be provided to make the job as clean and efficient as possible.