Recycling operative

kerbside collector recycling officer
Facilities and property services

Career outlook for recycling operative

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would go to people’s homes and businesses and collect rubbish that can be used for a new purpose rather than just thrown away.

Your work would help people and industries re-use resources and reduce their impact on the environment.

You’d collect recyclable materials like:

  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Plastics
  • Metals
  • Textiles

You would:

  • Empty recycling boxes and wheelie bins into the collection vehicle
  • Put the boxes and bins back and make sure nothing has been left behind
  • Check that the right kind of materials have been put out for recycling
  • Sort recyclables at the kerbside
  • Use machinery to help you lift and sort items at the waste collection site and the recycling site
  • Work on the conveyor belt at a waste plant, sorting waste and removing non-recyclable items
  • Inspect materials for any contamination
  • Speak to members of the public about recycling schemes
  • Clean and maintain equipment

In some jobs you could also drive the waste collection vehicle.

You’d need to do a lot of lifting so fitness and stamina would be important. You’d also need to follow health and safety rules.

Working conditions


You would generally work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with possible overtime when necessary. In many jobs you would start work very early in the morning.


This job can be physically demanding and most collection work would be outdoors in all weather conditions.


You would travel from building to building to collect rubbish. For some jobs you may need a driving licence.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Concentrating
  • Attention to detail
  • Cooperating

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no set qualifications to enter this job but qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 may be of value.

Useful subjects

  • Maths
  • English
  • A science subject such as environmental science

You will also need

Some employers may require you to have a driving licence. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show physical fitness, health and safety and recycling skills.

Work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Sustainable Resource Operations (SVQ level 2/3) can be helpful when entering this role or can be achieved once you are in work.