Recycling Officer

    If you are wondering how to become a recycling officer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the environmental sciences, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Recycling officers are responsible for planning and developing local environmental and waste reduction policies, and running recycling schemes.

    Typical responsibilities:

    promoting recycling to the local community and media
    developing policies
    managing local recycling facilities and collection services
    developing and introducing new recycling schemes
    monitoring and reporting on how often recycling services are used
    assessing tenders for work and managing contracts
    advising local communities on recycling, waste reduction and environmental issues
    managing budgets and bidding for funding
    recruiting and training volunteers
    keeping up to date with best practice and current laws.
    In some jobs you might combine recycling and waste management activities, in others you would concentrate solely on recycling.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good recycling officers include:

    good communication and people skills
    confident presentation skills
    the ability to manage people and lead a team
    report writing skills
    the ability to organise, prioritise and meet deadlines
    the ability to work with budgets and figures
    a keen interest in the environment.

    How to become a recycling officer
    Entry requirements for recycling officer jobs can vary. You will often be asked for a BTEC HNC or degree in wastes management or a related subject like environmental science, but this is not always essential if you have:

    plenty of voluntary or paid experience in recycling or environmental projects, or
    experience as a technician or supervisor in the waste management industry.
    You can find a list of accredited degrees at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) website. Check with colleges or universities for course entry requirements.

    Contact your local recycling officer or community recycling organisation about volunteering or work experience opportunities.

    If you have previous experience in recycling projects or the waste management industry, you will find it useful to have relevant NVQs such as:

    Levels 1 and 2 in Recycling Operations
    Levels 2 and 3 in Environmental Conservation (Community Recycling option)
    Levels 1, 2 and 3 in Waste Management Operations or Level 3 in Waste Management Supervision.

    Training and Development
    You will be trained on the job, usually with some formal training courses from the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management (CIWM). These include:

    Structured Education and Training Scheme (SET) – for recent graduates to gain practical skills in their first job
    Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) Recycling Managers’ Training Programme – a series of short courses for recycling officers with at least three years’ experience.
    You could also work towards relevant NVQs, such as:
    Levels 3 and 4 in Management of Recycling Operations
    Level 4 in Waste Management Operations.
    With experience, you may also choose to study for postgraduate qualifications in waste management, sustainable waste management or environmental engineering.

    It may help your career to join the CIWM and work towards Chartered Waste Manager status.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Salaries are usually between £18,000 and £27,000 a year
    Senior managers earn up to £40,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    Most job opportunities are with local councils. You could also work for community environmental groups and charities, or private waste and recycling contractors. Jobs are advertised in the local and national press, Wastes Management Journal and on industry and public sector websites including the CIWM and LGjobs.

    Recycling is a growth area of work, because of increased interest in environmental issues. However, local authority recycling teams are often small so there can be strong competition for jobs.

    With experience, you could progress into area or senior management jobs. You could also move into waste management, environmental project management or freelance work as an environmental consultant.

    Useful environmental resources:
    Chartered Institution of Wastes Management
    9 Saxon Court
    St Peter’s Gardens
    NN1 1SX
    Tel: 01604 620426

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