Waste Recycler

Over 54 million tonnes of waste is generated and sent to landfills in South Africa annually, most of which are fast reaching their capacity. Recycling waste materials addresses the challenges of decreasing landfill capacity, as well as threats to the environment through for example, greenhouse gas emissions and leached waste. The recycling sector is fast growing in South Africa and provides over 58 000 people with income-generating opportunities.

Waste recyclers salvage materials from industrial, commercial and private establishments for resale. They weigh and record incoming recyclable materials and assist in the process of selling these materials to recycling companies. They can use metal cutters and burners to dismantle larger items such as e-waste. For logistical purposes, some operate machinery to crush recycling materials into bales.

Waste recyclers work in teams to sort through and organise waste material into recycling categories. They can work long hours and be exposed to hazardous materials.


Waste recyclers require a good knowledge of the different types of recyclable materials. They will additionally benefit from:

  • Ability to safely operate and maintain recycling equipment
  • Physical stamina and strength
  • Excellent safety, health and environmental awareness
  • Ability to work long hours


Weigh and record incoming recycling materials

Grade and sort materials according to quality and value

Clean and bale materials to transport and sell to recycling plants

Operate machinery to stack or load sorted materials


No formal qualification is required; however, training is attained on the job amongst other experienced recyclers.


Recycling centres.

Waste management companies.

Related career paths