Job type

Recycling operative

£13k - £24k

Typical salary

18 – 43

Hours per week

Recycling operatives collect recyclable materials like glass, paper, plastics and metals from homes and businesses, and sort them at waste collection sites.

More info

  • Collect recyclable materials like glass, paper and plastics
  • Requires excellent communication and customer service skills
  • You could move into a supervisory role at a waste collection site

As a recycling operative, you could work as part of a collection team or as part of the team sorting recyclable items at the waste recycling plant. You may also sometimes work on both teams.


  • 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
  • In some jobs you may also drive a waste collection vehicle


In many jobs you'll start work very early in the morning. This job can be physically demanding and most collection work is outdoors, in all weather conditions.

You'll need

This role requires excellent communication and customer service skills.

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.

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

Alternatively, you can do an intermediate apprenticeship in sustainable resource management or as a waste resource operative.


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