A day in the life of a recycling centre operative

Take a look behind the scenes, as Stephen shares a glimpse of a typical day in his life at work at Thirteen's Recycling Centre.

210715Thirteen Recycling 020


Living locally to the centre, I start the day by cycling into work. Not only is it great exercise, but I know I’m doing my bit for the environment.

I begin work at 8am. There’s lots to do before we welcome colleagues or visitors to the site. We take health and safety very seriously, as we’re working with hazardous materials and we need to ensure we’re visible, so I head to the on-site changing facilities and put on my PPE, including hi-vis clothing and safety boots. 

Team work

It’s team work right from the start to make sure we’re all prepared for the day ahead – from opening up the containers, checking how much waste there is and carrying out a vehicle check on the telehandler.

We open the gates and do last checks to make sure the site is ready for 8.15am. But let’s not forget ... we also feed the chickens and collect the eggs!

While we have a routine, no two days are ever the same. Some days I’ll man the weighbridge throughout the morning, weighing the waste in and out, registering the vehicles onto site and managing the site traffic.

Inputting data into the weighbridge system gives the team the information they need for reports, as everything we put into it can be downloaded. We record the date, time, the vehicle registration, the area of the business the waste is from and the type of waste.

On a daily basis we can see up to around 30 vehicles on the site and we can process about nine tonnes waste.

It’s important to keep on top of the tasks so we regularly sort through the waste that’s come in.

Varied job

It such a varied job. At around 10am we start to do the runs of the material out to the companies who we work with. We take the less bulky items in the tipper, such as the uPVC window frames from investment work and some companies come in to pick up the bulky items. We all work together to make the arrangements for bulky items and we work on a rota to do this side of the job.

The window frames are shredded down and materials separated out at the plant. The clean plastic is sent for further processing before the material is recycled into new window frames.

Currently there’s some investment work being carried out to replace the fluorescent lighting in one of Thirteen’s buildings, we’re helping to remove hundreds of old lighting tubes and cardboard from the site to recycle the materials.

At around 11am we often see a rush of teams coming to the site to drop off waste material. Then we sort through this and take out materials such as wood, cardboard and metals so that it’s broken down and we operate the telehandler to load it into the skips.

It’s time for a break!

This isn’t like any other recycling centre. We’re lucky to have a relaxing outdoor seating area, just by the hen house and the pond, which groups of colleagues built together during the wellbeing sessions.

Then it’s back to processing more waste. For example, we’ll strip down a combi boiler to take out the metals and the wood from bulky furniture, then place it into the correct skips to improve the recycling.

We see our next rush hour around 3pm. That’s probably our busiest time. There’s a lot more sorting of waste to be done.

At 4pm some of us carry out the second litter pick of the day to keep the site tidy. We have to compact the waste into the skips with the telehandler to get as much waste in as possible and to ensure it’s secure.

Once we’ve made sure everything is in containers we close the site up, make sure the chickens are back in for the night, before having 10 minutes of downtime. This is scheduled into every day for hygiene purposes and we load our uniforms into the washing machines.

Everyday we leave the site knowing we’ve made a difference and played our part in team Thirteen.