Find a Fast-Track Career with Waste Recycling Jobs

By KIMMEL & ASSOCIATES on AUGUST 4, 2015

So you’ve got your MBA, trucking certification, HR credentials or a solid CV in management, and you’re wondering where oh where the next big bubble is, so you can ride it to success. In fact, that bubble may be gurgling all around you, no matter where you live or work. Waste recycling jobs are in demand because the need is everywhere — and it all begins in those big barrels of waste produced by every single resident and business in the United States.

With annual revenues exceeding $236 billion and payrolls topping $37 billion, the waste recycling industry just may be one of the hottest job markets to tap into for 2015 and beyond. Couple those figures with mounting legislative mandates surrounding recycling, and you can find exceptional opportunities when looking for waste recycling jobs.

Trickle-Down Economics at its Finest

Battery pyramid alkalines don't get recycled

At the very top of the waste recycling pyramid, you have the actual front-line recycling plants that collect recyclables, process them and then broker the end materials. Manufacturers use the recycled materials to make new products, which rely on an entirely separate distribution stream.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that support industries for the waste recycling industry account for another 1.4 million jobs, with about $52 billion spent in payroll. These jobs include everything from accounting to technology and office supplies. Employees with jobs in recycling turn around and add another $41 billion to their local economies that result in about 1.5 million additional jobs. It’s a productive cycle.

Types of Waste Recycling Jobs

Once you start looking into the industry as a whole, you’ll find exceptional opportunities that call for a wide range of skills. Jobs in the recycling industry revolve around a diversified and integrated infrastructure that includes both private and governmental organizations. The industries that produce the most waste account for about half of all economic recycling activity. For example, these industries include:

  • Paper mills

  • Plastic converters

  • Steel mills

  • Iron and steel foundries

The major manufacturers that rely on the most jobs in waste recycling to sustain their growth include industries using:

  • Ferrous metals

  • Organics

  • Glass

  • Paper

  • Plastics

  • Nonferrous metals

And the niche markets continue to grow and expand, adding waste recycling jobs that didn’t even exist a decade ago. These industries include:

  • Plastic lumber manufacturers

  • Organic composters

  • Computer de-manufacturers, with skills to take apart computers for recycling

Regulators Pushing All-Time High in Employment Figures

Earth day celebration

State and federal lawmakers continue to forge new guidelines for recycling. They approve tax credits for environmentally friendly purchases. They levy taxes on homeowners and businesses for refusing to comply with new ordinances. Zero-waste production mandates are changing the way Americans live and do business, requiring more and more technical waste specialists, business managers and distribution experts, including truck drivers.

From the increased use of solar power to renewable energy efforts, businesses and homeowners are looking for ways to more ethically treat waste. Earth Day in America is becoming a daily mantra for many workers and families across the country.

National Waste Associates noted a few of the precedents invoked in 2015:

  • Pollution from coal plants was drastically regulated with harsh federal regulations.

  • President Obama met with the Chinese to create a coalition that would lead to a reduction in greenhouse gases.

  • California saw the first statewide plastic bag ban.

  • New York banned electronic equipment disposal.

  • Waste bins in Seattle started being analyzed for violations, resulting in fines if more than 10% of trash should have been put in recycling bins instead.

Where Are the Jobs?

Turnover is very low in the waste recycling industry, according to the National Waste and Recycling Association. Recycling jobs, specifically in waste, pay more than the average wages paid to those who work in other areas of waste management. As manufacturing jobs continue to decline throughout the country, recycling jobs are flourishing. There are about 10 times as many recycling jobs created than landfill disposal jobs.

On the collection side, truck drivers are in huge demand as many drivers are aging out and fewer young people pursue blue-collar careers. Jobs in the transportation side of the industry are expected to grow by more than 11% through 2022. Other core jobs in recycling industry include:

  • Technicians

  • Facility maintenance workers

  • Welders

  • Materials processors

  • Core supervisors

Both private industry and government institutions report a growing demand for environmental specialists to develop and oversee sustainable practices. Opportunities include recycling jobs in waste for those trained as:

  • Environmental scientists

  • Civil engineers

  • Soil experts

  • Geologists

  • Hazardous materials specialists

Business professionals are being recruited in every department within companies involved in waste recycling. With experience and education, shoot for an executive position in the rapidly progressing field in areas such as:

  • Operations Management

  • Procurement

  • Information Technology (IT)

  • Marketing and Sales

  • Environmental Consulting

Jobs that Match Your Values

Recycling jobs: engineer at waste plant

Waste recycling jobs not only pay well and provide exceptional opportunities for advancement, they are the types of careers that you can feel good about. Saving the planet and teaching others about sustainable practices are worthwhile endeavors. Working in a field that encourages public safety and the welfare of all citizens can be very fulfilling both professionally and personally.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Kimmel & Associates

Kimmel & Associates

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Kimmel is an executive search firm located in Asheville, North Carolina. Our professional recruiters are committed to exceeding client expectations. They work with the same dedication, honesty, and attitude of service that has been the Kimmel standard for over 34 years.

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