Waste Material Sorter

Just under 54 million tonnes of waste, including plastic, paper, glass and other general waste go to South African landfills annually. 60% of this waste produced at source can be recycled. Waste sorters play a big role in supporting a culture of recycling by identifying and sorting different items that can be recycled, reused and repurposed from that which needs to be disposed of in a landfill site.

Waste material sorters identify, classify and sort a variety of mixed waste materials. They offload and transport materials to a sorting area and manually sort materials into correct containers according to grades and types to be sent to different recycling plants for further processing. Some can operate and perform general maintenance on baling machines that compress materials to be easily handled, transported and stored.

Waste material sorters sometimes work in sorting facilities, classifying incoming waste. Some work in open spaces or plants. They could work individually or in teams with other sorters and require protective clothing due to the hazardous nature of their work.


Waste material sorters need a good knowledge of the types of materials that can be recycled or reused and can additionally benefit from:

  • Physical stamina and endurance 
  • Ability to work methodically
  • Awareness of health and safety
  • Ability to troubleshoot basic machinery issues


Sort materials according to recycling grades and types

Wash recyclable materials when necessary 

Inspect and perform maintenance and repairs on recycling equipment 

Clean the recycling work area, removing potential safety hazards


No formal qualification is required; however, training can be achieved on the job amongst other experienced sorters.


Material recovery facilities.

Recycling centres.

Waste management companies.

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