Does it drive you crazy when someone tosses a pop can into the garbage?
Do you find yourself removing paper from the trash can at your school or office,
and moving it to the recycling bin?
If you're passionate about recycling, recycling consulting could be
the job for you.
Some recycling consultants work for the government, where they help local
government offices deal with their recyclable waste. They may also advise
the construction sector on recycling programs.
Other recycling consultants work for themselves and are hired by private
companies to show the companies how to sell their recyclable materials.
Companies use and produce a lot of different materials --
from paper and plastic to wood and metal. A lot of these materials can be
recycled and reused by other businesses. However, often companies don't know
what to do with the materials when they're finished with them. This is where
recycling consultants come in.
Recycling consultants know what materials are worth in the marketplace
at any given time. They act as a middleperson between the company selling
the materials and the buying company. Instead of just throwing away materials,
the materials are reused and the selling company earns some cash.
In the private sphere, businesses hire recycling consultants to save their
companies money. Therefore, the prices companies can get for goods (plastic,
metal, etc.) affect the outlook for recycling consultants, says David Kirkpatrick.
He's the founder of an environmental economic development company in Durham,
North Carolina, called KirkWorks.
"The ups and downs of commodity prices really affect the whole industry,"
However, with rising concerns about shrinking landfill sites, and the need
to be environmentally friendly, the job outlook for recycling consultants
"The great thing about this career, and consulting in general, is that
you write your own schedule, and you have more flexibility than you would
if you worked for someone else full time," says Kirkpatrick. "On the other
hand, there is less security. If you work really hard, and make smart business
decisions, then it all pays off."
Because of the nature of consulting -- where many consultants are self-employed
-- income levels vary. Those working for the government generally make a bit
more, says Kirkpatrick.
"Folks with expertise in recycling consulting, or engineering and design
make anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000 annually," he says.
Recycling consultants may also go by the name of waste consultants, zerowaste
consultants, environmental consultants, or recycling or waste reduction coordinators.
Consultants can also specialize in a particular area, such as building materials,
or food or medical waste.
The career is a fairly new one. It's getting hard to imagine now, but there
was a time not long ago when recycling wasn't widely done and everything went
to the landfill. With the huge awareness and push for recycling, that has
A university degree in a field like environmental studies can lead to a
career in recycling consulting. "You don't have to have an engineering degree,
but some university education in science or sustainability or education will
help you get to the interview stage," says Mairi Welman. She's deputy executive
director of a recycling council.
"Don't go into [this career] if money is your primary motivator," advises
Welman. "But if you want to have a clear conscience at the end of the day,
and know that you did something in some small way to help our planet, then
this might be the job for you."
Experience at a recycling firm will help people interested in this career
path. But what type of personality traits and skills should recycling consultants
"They need to have strong analytical skills, the ability to seek and find
information and the talent to convince others to accept their solutions,"
says Michele Nestor. She's president of Nestor Resources, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based
waste and recycling consulting firm.
"You could say that we are sales people at heart because we have to sell
our skills and our ideas to stay in business,' she adds. "An often overlooked
skill of many entering any technical field is the ability to write. Samples
of a job candidate's writing are often required by many consulting firms these
Nestor adds that apart from having technical skills, good people and communication
skills are very important, because in this business, like so many, word spreads
about your work.
"There is an old adage that your reputation precedes you," says Nestor.
"That couldn't be truer than in the consulting business. Consultants in general...
build their businesses on referrals... and the environmental field is no different."
Nestor Resources, Inc.
Read about a private American company that deals in waste and
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Learn about an organization, which helps communities convert
"waste" into valuable resources
Global Recycling Network
Find links and information on recycling various materials
Bureau of International Recycling
Learn more about the recycling industry