What Does a Trash Collector Do?

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  • Written By: L.K. Blackburn
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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A trash collector is employed by government or private business to pick-up refuse and recycling from residential homes and commercial businesses. Truck and equipment operation is the main responsibility of a garbage collector, as most garbage trucks are equipped with lifts to load garbage directly into the truck. When garbage is not able to be picked up automatically by the truck's mechanisms, the trash collector physically loads the bags into the truck.

Trash collecting is a physically demanding job that requires constant attention and focus on the safe operation of equipment. Customer service is also a primary responsibility of trash collectors because they may encounter customer issues along their route each day. All issues are usually recorded and reported to the appropriate department within the garbage collection company. The trash collector lets their customers know about issues with their pickup or trash collection either through direct communication or by placing notification on the customer's door, mailbox, or trash receptacle.

Equipment maintenance and cleaning is sometimes handled by the trash collector who operates it. This depends on the government or business that runs the garbage service, as some may have specific individuals whose job it is to maintain the trucks and lifts. Trash collectors check their equipment for proper operation each day before leaving to ensure it is functioning correctly.


Communication is another important function of the job of a trash collector. In addition to customer service issues, the collector must mark each successful pickup within a logging system to record successful pickup, additional collection charges, and missed schedules. Commercial trash pick-up may have additional information that needs to be gathered on garbage type, hazardous material, and waste removal services. Any problems with equipment, other personnel, or the route itself is reported to supervisors and garbage collection management.

On any one garbage collection truck there are usually multiple trash collectors who each have their own role. The first is the truck driver, and this position requires a commercial drivers license with special allowances or restrictions depending on regional law. Other people on the truck are responsible for picking up trash directly, monitoring the mechanical arm, and record keeping.

The day starts early for a trash collector, usually beginning before sunrise. Training to be a garbage collector most often combines classroom based safety and equipment operation, and the majority of the time is spent on on-the-job training. Advancement is possible from trash collector to a supervisor or role in company management.


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Post 1

God bless the folks who pick up my trash. Nobody brags about this dangerous, hazardous, stinky type of work.

I think a course in waste management should be taught in high school so kids will not take their college educations for granted.

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