How to become a Refuse Collector

refuse collector careers

What does a Refuse Collector do?

Refuse collection operatives collect waste and load it into specially-adapted refuse collection vehicles. They work in a small team including a driver. Each day the team collects rubbish from homes, businesses and factories to an agreed schedule.

In addition to normal collections, refuse collection operatives may collect skips, recyclable waste, furniture and other large items, loading them on to a truck and unloading them at a disposal site or recycling facility.

Some companies specialise in the removal of hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of in a particular way, for example, clinical waste from hospitals, oil or chemical waste.

What's the working environment like working as a Refuse Collector?

Most refuse collection operatives work Monday to Friday, between 37 and 40 hours per week. Hours are often between 7am and 3.30 pm. Weekend work is possible and overtime may be available.

Refuse collectors work outdoors in all weather conditions. The work is active and may involve lifting, bending and carrying heavy bags although wheelie bins are becoming increasingly common. Safety clothing, such as heavy duty gloves, reflective jackets, safety trousers and steel toe capped boots may be provided.

What does it take to become a Refuse Collector?

As a refuse collector you should be:

  • physically fit and strong enough to work at a fast pace
  • able to work cooperatively in a small team
  • courteous when dealing with members of the public
  • hardworking and responsible
  • safety conscious and aware of the dangers from moving machinery
  • able to work quickly and accurately.

Refuse Collector Career Opportunities

Local authorities and commercial waste management companies throughout the UK employ refuse collection operatives. For further details of local government careers and jobs contact LGcareers.

Refuse collection operatives can become drivers by gaining a LGV (Large Goods Vehicle) licence. In some areas, employers may subsidise their LGV training. See Driver: Large Goods Vehicle for details of training providers.

It is also possible to go on to become a team leader, a supervisor or a manager organising collections and worksheets at the depot. With further qualifications, they may also become waste management officers.

Due to environmental legislation, recycling has become more important in this field. Refuse collection is increasingly concerned with local recycling initiatives and environmental awareness. See Recycling Officer for further details.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Refuse Collector that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Energy & Utility Skills Limited
Friars Gate Two
1011 Stratford Road
B90 4BN
Tel: 0845 077 9922

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM)
9 Saxon Court
St Peter's Gardens
Tel: 01604 620426

Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board (WAMITAB)
Peterbridge House
3 The Lakes
Tel: 01604 231950


Courses to help you become a Refuse Collector