Recycling or rubbish collector

Also known as:

  • Waste Removalist

What they do

Recycling and rubbish collectors remove waste and goods for recycling from homes, businesses and institutions such as schools and hospitals. They drive or ride in rubbish trucks, pick up bags, bins or recycling materials and throw them into the truck, or operate industrial waste disposal facilities. They may also separate recycling materials and remove hazardous waste, and unload or clean the truck. Recycling and rubbish collectors may also plan and organise the schedules and routes for rubbish and recycling collection in consultation with local government. Recycling and rubbish collectors work all over the state.

Specialisations include: Garbage Depot Worker

Working conditions

Recycling and rubbish collectors work outdoors, usually in large trucks, which they drive either along established domestic routes or to businesses and other organisations, and also to recycling plants and waste disposal facilities. They work in most weather conditions, and are often required to undertake a lot of heavy lifting. Working conditions may be dirty, smelly and unhygienic. They usually work irregular hours, which often involve early mornings.

Tools and technologies

Recycling and rubbish collectors generally drive rubbish collection vehicles such as trucks, which may be fitted with hydraulic lifting equipment and automated compacting equipment. They may also be required to work with industrial waste-disposal equipment. They are often required to wear protective clothing such as masks, gloves, boots and high-visibility clothing when they are working on roadsides.

How do I become one?

Education and training

You do not need any qualifications to become a recycling and rubbish collector and get training on the job. However, your employment prospects may be improved with formal qualifications.

You can also become a recycling and rubbish collector by completing a traineeship. Anasset maintenance (waste management) traineeship usually takes 12 months to complete. Alternatively a waste collection driver traineeship usually takes 24 months to complete.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To operate a waste collection vehicle, you will need appropriate licences to drive vehicles and operate machinery.