Saving the Planet One Pick-Up at a...

Saving the Planet One Pick-Up at a Time: Re-use and Recyclable Material Collectors

by Anthony Teles
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

The only way humans can have a good future on this planet is if we start treating the environment better. There are more people than ever using a wide variety of products. This means there is more plastic, cardboard, and other materials being thrown away. It is our responsibility to put garbage in waste bins and recyclable materials in recycling bins, but it is re-use and recyclable material collectors who have the important job of collecting these bins and putting the materials away in the right place. It may not be easy or glamorous, but it is an essential job that helps keep communities clean and our future bright.

Recyclable material collectors are responsible for picking up the bins left outside of homes and buildings in different neighbourhoods. There are a lot of materials in large bins that can block sidewalks and roads, so it is extremely important that collectors take them away quickly and without disrupting people’s lives. They work in teams alongside co-workers and supervisors in a very physical job that requires a lot of heavy lifting. These workers must know how to separate different recyclable and waste materials in order for the recycling process to take place. This is a great career for those want to work outdoors and not feel stuck in the same location day in and day out. Most importantly, you get the satisfaction of knowing you are playing a key role in helping the environment.

Re-use and recyclable material collectors make an average hourly rate of $16. This can range from as low as minimum wage to over $22 per hour, with a total annual salary from $25,000 to nearly $53,000. The median hourly wage ranges depending on location, from $13 in Quebec to $20 in Alberta. There is a good job outlook for those looking to be recycling truck drivers; from 2017 to 2026, there will be about 10,900 new job openings and 10,500 people to fill them. The outlook for sorters is a bit more limited due to changes in technology and employment that are affecting all processing and manufacturing jobs.

If you are interested in this career, you will need to finish high school at a minimum. You also have to complete safety training and obtain the proper licence for driving the trucks that are used. Many employers will expect you to have experience driving these vehicles, as well as knowledge on the different materials that require sorting. As you gain experience, you can look ahead at work in a supervisory or manager role in recycling and waste treatment; it is likely that you can do this after only a few years. At least 80% of people working as collectors have one to four years of experience, with only 10% working in the role for more than 10 years.

The environment is the biggest challenge people face in this century. With more waste and higher temperatures, we need to take action now to make sure our kids and grandchildren can grow up in a safe and healthy world. Re-use and recyclable material collectors play an important part in this by helping to collect the materials we throw out and making sure they do not end up as waste taking up space. If this career interests you, be prepared for a lot of physical work that will have you outside a lot. You will keep your neighbourhood clean and the Earth healthy. Your grandchildren will thank you.


Job Bank. “Sorter – Recyclable Materials.”  https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/summary-occupation/14005/ca

Job Bank. “Recycling Truck Driver.” https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/summary-occupation/25881/ca

PayScale. “Average Refuse, Garbage, and Recyclable Material Collector.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Refuse%2c_Garbage%2c_and_Recyclable_Material_Collector/Hourly_Rate

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