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A waste management officer uses legislation, initiatives and policies – as well as communication with residents and councils – to devise and implement strategies to handle waste.
Most waste management officers are employed by one of the 370 waste collection authorities (WCAs) across England and Wales.

What do waste management officers do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

As a waste management officer, you’ll create and put the plans in place to provide a reliable and efficient service for the collection, transportation and disposal of waste. You’ll also be responsible for ensuring legislation is followed and budgets are managed effectively. Waste management and recycling coordination may be combined into one role, so an understanding of local and national environmental policies may be required.

The job typically involves:

  • ensuring waste management schemes are implemented effectively and legal requirements are upheld
  • overseeing the transportation of waste to ensure its efficiency and prevent contamination – of air, land or water
  • using national waste strategy and policy to inform plans for waste collection, disposal, minimisation and recycling
  • advising the council and other relevant bodies/people on the likely impact of new legislation, policies and initiatives
  • locating areas in which waste management is problematic (eg where fly tipping is frequent) and devising solutions
  • talking to members of the public, the local council and housing associations to identify and overcome problems with waste management
  • creating and managing budgets.

Typical employers

Most waste management officers are employed by waste collection authorities (WCAs). There are over 370 of these within local authorities across England and Wales. However, opportunities with other types of employers do come up; the main ones are:

  • private firms specialising in waste management
  • environmental agencies
  • not-for-profit organisations working for environmental causes

Qualifications and training

A relevant degree – for example, in engineering, environmental or science – is often preferred. Many employers will also accept other relevant qualifications, such as a Higher National Diploma (HND) and a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in waste management. Take a look at the website of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) for accredited qualifications; these will demonstrate to employers that you’ve gained a certain level of understanding.

Experience of waste management or recycling is valued for this role so, while you can enter the profession after graduating, some people move into it from another role in a WCA, waste management firm, environmental agency or not-for-profit organisation specialising in environmental causes. Take a look at WasteJobs, along with vacancies on TARGETjobs, for relevant positions.

Key skills

  • Ability to communicate with, explain ideas to and motivate others
  • Analytical skills
  • Capacity to grasp and apply legislation
  • Strong organisational skills
  • Interest in and understanding of environmental and sustainability policies
  • Decision-making skills
  • Ability to oversee and manage processes and people

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