Waste Management Engineer

Waste management engineers organise and manage waste disposal, collection, and recycling facilities. They may also be responsible for waste treatment and street cleaning operations. Some posts combine waste management and recycling functions, while others split them into separate jobs.

Tasks often include overseeing waste management schemes, such as at landfill sites; supervising the transport of waste so that air, land or water sources are not contaminated; assisting with the development, promotion and implementation of new waste disposal schemes; ensuring compliance with current legislation in the transportation, handling and disposal of waste; collating statistics and compiling reports, often to strict deadlines; dealing with enquiries and complaints from members of the public; investigating and following up claims of illegal dumping; consulting with residents, community groups, councillors, housing associations and traders’ associations about waste management issues, identifying their requirements and providing appropriate solutions; developing research projects; and contributing to the activities of national groups concerned with waste disposal.

Recycling means the remanufacturing of recovered materials, as opposed to re-use, where the recovered product is simply re-used for similar purposes, e.g. beverage bottles.

Recycling of waste involves the separation at source of recyclable materials from the general waste stream and the re-use of these materials. The objectives of recycling are to save resources as well as to reduce the environmental impact of waste by reducing the amount of waste disposed at landfills. To meet these objectives, waste separation at source is proposed, as the quality of recyclable materials is higher when separated at source. In addition, recycling has the potential for job creation and is a viable alternative to informal salvaging at landfills, which is undesirable due to the problems of health and safety associated with this form of salvaging.

The ultimate aim of recycling is the protection of the environment and public health by reducing the ever-increasing volumes of waste being generated by developing societies, and by reducing the amount of natural resources necessary for the manufacture of any product.

Incinerator and water-treatment plant operators monitor and operate computerised control systems and related equipment in solid and liquid waste treatment plants to regulate the treatment and disposal of sewage and wastes, and in water filtration and treatment plants to regulate the treatment and distribution of water.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Science
Recommended subjects: Engineering and Graphic Design

What to Study

Degree: BSc with subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, climatology, or BEng Civil Engineering, BTech Civil Engineering.

Diploma: N.Dip. Environmental Science or engineering - universities of technology. BTech Waste Management Certificates in Integrated Waste Management, environmental law, hazardous waste disposal, implementing environmental management standard would be useful.

Postgraduate: MSc Civil Engineering (with ECSA), or equivalent, followed by PhD


• municipalities
• waste incineration plants companies
• recycling companies
• industrial organisations
• environmental agencies
• renewable energy companies
• self-employment, as a consultant

Further Information

Institute of Waste Management
Weltevreden Shopping Centre
Corner Kanniedood and Rinyani Streets
Weltevreden Park
Tel: (011) 675-3462/4

South African Waste information Centre
Department of Environmental Affairs
Fedsure Forum Building
315 Pretorius Street
Pretoria. 0001
Tel: (012) 310-3910

Programmes by Study Institutions

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