What does a Waste Collector do?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 16 May 2020
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A waste collector gathers trash, garbage and recycled materials on a prescribed itinerary through a city, town, village or rural neighborhood. He normally drives a specially designed truck that has hydraulic container lifts on its sides or back. These mechanisms lift large and small containers and dump the contents into the main receptacle of the truck. In some instances, the truck has no special equipment and the dumping has to be manually performed. He may work for a private company or one under the jurisdiction of a particular region or vicinity.

In certain areas and for specific waste collections operations, a waste collector may also have the responsibility of treating the waste at a plant after he collects it. Special disposition of recycled materials is often necessary. He may also be required to operate special equipment to clean streets and roads. A position with multiple job responsibilities is typically found in smaller, independent operations.

A waste collector is generally expected to be aware of all environmental laws and adhere to them during the course of carrying out his job. Since these statutes and guidelines are subject to frequent change, he is commonly required to keep himself informed and up-to-date on any changes that affect his routine. These changes may entail alterations in reporting and documentation procedures as well as handling of the waste.

A waste collector is traditionally expected to be aware of any changes in what he collects as well as any variations at his waste disposal locations. His supervisor customarily needs to be advised if banned materials, such as computer monitors, televisions or used motor oil, are being mixed in with normal waste. It is also commonly required that the waste collector report questionable processing procedures he may note at disposal points.

Excellent physical health is generally required for this position, as it typically requires heavy and repeated lifting. Good time management skills are necessary to efficiently collect waste from various locations on different days of the week. Customers and consumers often have questions and concerns regarding waste disposal. A waste collector needs to be informed and have good communication skills to adequately address these issues. He may be required to communicate by phone, fax, e-mail and letters as well as in person.

No formal education is normally required for this position. A high school diploma or equivalent is a common prerequisite. A commercial driver’s license is usually needed to legally operate the truck. Other licenses may be required if hazardous materials handling is part of the job.


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