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Refuse collector

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Refuse collectors remove waste and recyclables from homes and businesses for disposal or recycling.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £25,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements.

You may have to be aged 18 or over for health, safety and insurance reasons. 

To work as a waste collection driver, you must have a large goods vehicle (LGV) licence. 

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

The Chartered Institute of Wastes Management has more information about becoming a refuse collector.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a polite and professional manner with the public
  • the ability to work quickly and cleanly
  • good levels of concentration, observation and driving skills, for driver jobs

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • moving bags, bins and recycling bins and boxes
  • using a lifting mechanism to tip the waste from bins into the lorry
  • throwing plastic bags into the back of the lorry
  • crushing the waste
  • sorting recyclable materials at the kerbside
  • guiding the driver safely around streets
  • reporting any problems with waste collections
  • helping to unload the waste at designated facilities
  • recording the amount of waste collected

With experience, you might drive the collection lorry and supervise the team of loaders. As the driver, you’ll:

  • make routine maintenance checks on the lorry before you set out
  • drive the lorry, stopping often and keeping pace with the loaders
  • be aware of other vehicles or people in the road and steer the lorry safely
  • make sure that people are clear of the lorry before crushing starts
  • drive the collection vehicle to a transfer station, landfill site or recycling depot for weighing and unloading

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £19,000 (collectors)

Experienced: £20,000 (drivers)

Highly Experienced: £25,000 (managers)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work between 6.30am or 7am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. You may work on public holidays, and on weekends.

You’ll work outdoors in all weather conditions. The job is physically demanding. 

You’ll be provided with safety clothing.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to team leader or supervisor. 

With further training you could become a waste management officer or recycling officer. 

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Last updated: 02 April 2018