Career of the Month: Recycling Engagement Officer
This month over 100 million people across 190 countries are expected to take part in ‘Plastic Free July’, a campaign seeking to reduce the impact of single use plastics on the environment. Annual global plastics production is now estimated to be around 370 million metric tons per year – an increase of 80 percent since the year 2000. Huge amounts of this becomes waste, with many plastic products thrown out after just one use often finding their way into rivers and oceans causing damage to marine life. Recycling and reduction of waste is a central part of the solution with the current rate of recycling of plastic packaging waste in the UK standing at just over 44%. If you are interested in sustainability and exploring ways to reduce the negative impact of waste on the environment, then our career of the month as a ‘Recycling Engagement Officer’ could be one to explore.
Salary Range £22,000-£35,000
A recycling engagement officer will manage and promote local waste management, recycling and sustainability initiatives to ensure opportunities to reduce environmental impact are being utilised by the local community. A typical day might involve managing local recycling and collection services, from operations to managing contracts, budgets and funding applications.
Working in the community, a recycling engagement officer will organise and promote local sustainability projects and provide information and advice to individuals and businesses around waste management and recycling.
They will recruit and train volunteers who are interested in supporting environmental sustainability projects on a local level and investigate complaints from the public around waste mismanagement.
The job can be office based or based at a local recycling centre. Often you will work outdoors, checking on operations and wearing protective clothing.
If you are a natural leader with a keen eye for detail who can work well with others, this career path could suit you. Customer service and communication skills would also be helpful along with being familiar with basic computer packages. You will need to develop knowledge of manufacturing production and processes, and understand why recycling is important for maintaining our environment.
Employers might want you to have a higher national diploma or degree that is accredited by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) to be considered for this role. Subjects like waste management or environmental sciences would be relevant for this type of work.
You could enter the profession via an apprenticeship such as a level 6 environmental practitioner apprenticeship and a level 7 sustainability business specialist degree apprenticeship.
First steps in building your qualifications could include completing a college course to help you learn some of the skills you need to become a recycling engagement officer such as a Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of Sustainable Resource Management.
What you can be doing now
Building up voluntary experience that shows your commitment to environmental and sustainability practices would be a great way to start your journey. You could volunteer or work at a recycling centre or take part in community or environmental based projects to show your interest in local issues. The Conservation Volunteers website can help you find community groups and environmental projects taking place near you that are seeking volunteers, or you could reach out to your local recycling centres to see what opportunities they may have.