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Materials recycler

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Summary of occupation

Materials recyclers collect, sort and repurpose recyclable items from industrial, commercial and private establishments for reuse and resale. They may recycle a range of materials such as cardboard and paper, mattresses, scrap metal and plastics, construction and demolition materials, and electronic waste (e-waste) such as computers and televisions.

Materials recyclers may travel to perform an assessment or evaluation of materials to be recycled, and may offer a collection service. They may buy materials to repurpose and resell, such as bricks for historic buildings, or may recycle materials for manufacture on site.

ANZSCO description: Salvages materials from industrial, commercial and private establishments for resale.
Alternative names: Waste recycler, Scrap materials buyer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A materials recycler needs:

  • an interest in recycling and reducing waste
  • to enjoy manual and practical work
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • customer service skills
  • good problem solving skills
  • attention to detail.
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Working conditions

​Materials recyclers may work in scrapyards, warehouse facilities or factories where they sort and process items to be recycled. They may sort materials by hand or by machine.

Materials recyclers generally work business hours, but may also work on weekends, depending on the needs of their business. They may use a range of personal protective equipment (PPE), which will vary depending on the specific work being carried out.

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Salary details

​On average, materials recyclers, classified under other sales assistants and salespersons, can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a materials recycler develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Materials recyclers may use office equipment to consult with clients and organise collections of recyclable materials. They may also be required to collect payments for materials. They may operate forklifts, trucks, mobile plants, balers or scissor lifts. They may be required to wear safety gloves, glasses and boots, as well as high visibility clothing.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​You can work as a materials recycler without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, you can also complete a traineeship.

A waste management traineeship is available, and can be done as a school-based traineeship. You can also do a traineeship as a waste collection driver. These traineeships generally take 12 to 24 months to complete.

To operate waste collection vehicles in Western Australia, you will need to obtain the appropriate licences to drive these vehicles and operate related machinery. Some employers may require you to hold a medium or heavy rigid licence, depending on the type of vehicle used in their operations. Contact the Department of Transport for more information about these licences.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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