Rubbish/Recycling Collector Kaiwhakahiato Rāpihi

Rubbish/recycling collectors collect household, industrial or commercial rubbish for disposal or recycling.

Rubbish/recycling collectors may do some or all of the following:

  • drive or ride on a rubbish/recycling truck
  • pick up bags or bins of rubbish/recycling and throw them into the truck
  • operate machines to pick up bins 
  • separate rubbish from recycling
  • operate equipment that crushes rubbish and items for recycling
  • unload and clean rubbish/recycling trucks
  • drive forklifts or vehicles with tracks or rollers.

Physical Requirements

Rubbish/recycling collectors need to have a good level of fitness and must be strong.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for rubbish/recycling collectors includes physical labour or driving heavy vehicles.

Personal Qualities

Rubbish/recycling collectors need to be:

  • practical, with an eye for detail
  • quick and efficient
  • punctual.


Rubbish/recycling collectors need to have knowledge of:

  • collection routes
  • what they should or should not collect
  • health and safety guidelines
  • correct lifting and carrying techniques
  • how to operate rubbish compactors and other types of rubbish/recycling collection vehicles.

Ability to drive a heavy vehicle, forklift or vehicle with tracks or rollers is also useful.


Rubbish/recycling collectors:

  • work irregular hours, including early mornings
  • work outdoors on suburban streets and in commercial and industrial areas
  • work in most types of weather, and in conditions that may be dirty, messy and smelly.

Rubbish/Recycling Collectors can earn around $23 per hour.

Rubbish/recycling collectors usually earn between minimum wage and a little more, depending on where they work.

Owner-drivers earn more, but they have to pay for costs such as vehicle maintenance.

Sources: research, 2020; and Northland Waste, 2020.

Rubbish/recycling collectors may move into management roles or into operating machinery or driving heavy vehicle jobs.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a rubbish/recycling collector. 

To become a rubbish/recycling truck driver, you need to have a heavy vehicle driver's licence.

To become a forklift driver, you need a licence with an F endorsement.

Rubbish/Recycling Collector