Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recycling occupations

December 30, 2011

Getting recyclables from waste bins to manufacturers (where they can be reused in new products) requires different types of workers. Drivers collect the recyclables and transport them to a materials recovery facility, which employs sorters, plant managers, technicians, and mechanics. Skilled personnel in support roles, such as sales and logistics, are also essential to the recycling industry.

Median annual wages, selected occupations in remediation and other waste management services, 2010
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Several drivers usually work together as a team to collect recyclables. One drives the truck, stopping alongside each recycling bin. At each stop, at least one worker exits the vehicle, grabs the curbside recycling bin, and empties it into the truck. BLS does not have data specifically for drivers of recycling trucks; however, these workers are included in the occupation refuse and recyclable material collectors.

In single-stream recycling systems, many different kinds of recyclables are collected together. Sorters separate the various types of recyclables so they can be processed. These workers are included in the occupation laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand.

To collect recyclables in the most efficient way possible, route managers plan routes and schedules for recycling trucks to follow. Route managers are included in the occupation logisticians.

Companies selling recycling services use sales representatives to sell their services to either an entire municipality or individual consumers. Sales workers also sell recyclables—after they have been sorted and processed—to manufacturers to be used as the raw material in new products.

Wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program. For more information, see "Careers in Recycling" by Drew Liming, part of a BLS series of Green Career Information articles. Occupational median wage estimates are for the remediation and other waste management services industry group.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Recycling occupations at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2011/ted_20111230.htm (visited January 19, 2022).

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