Collecting Waste and Recycling

No matter whether you call them bin men, refuse collectors or waste and recycling operatives these are the most visible jobs to the public. Everyone sees them collecting the waste from doorsteps around the country every week, come rain, shine or coronavirus!

In Devon the waste and recycling is collected by the 8 District Councils (ie. Mid Devon, East Devon, Teignbridge, South Hams, West Devon, Torridge and North Devon) or Unitary Authorities (in Plymouth and Torbay). In other counties this may work differently, some waste and recycling services are run as contracts to private companies (for example Suez runs Cornwall County Council’s waste collection service), while some are in-house partnerships (such as the Dorset Waste Partnership).

Job skills required:

  • An ability to get up early – teams often start before dawn so that rubbish and recycling is collected from all households on a round.
  • A good state of physical fitness – this job requires lifting and carrying of bins, boxes and bags.
  • An ability to work as part of a team – good teamwork is needed to get the job done.
  • A strong constitution – there’s no getting away from the fact that rubbish can be smelly! You can’t go round all day holding your nose!
  • An ability to follow rules – health and safety is really important in this job. You don’t want to be the person who cuts their hand on a broken bottle because you haven’t put it in the right place.

To see more roles see Careers Advice – Zone (

Female bin lady carrying rubbish bags (America)
A household waste collector on a street holding a recycling box
Smiling waste collection team from West Devon emptying food waste caddies into a waste collection vehicle