Waste reduction coordinators do a lot of different things. They need communication
skills, not to mention an understanding of statistics, engineering and even
They are part environmentalists, part bureaucrats and part public relations
"There have been days where I've found myself moving 1,500-pound bales
of paper with a forklift in the morning, then lobbying politicians on behalf
of recycling legislation in the afternoon," says Alec Cooley.
Cooley is a solid waste reduction manager at Humboldt State University
in California. "I get to use both sides of my brain on those days," he says.
"This can be a very fulfilling job. You can make a difference in the community
through education and promotion of three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle," says
Kim A. Kidd Kitagawa.
Kitagawa is a waste reduction coordinator. "The average resident cares
that they have recycling and garbage collection. Many are interested in going
beyond the 'blue box' to help the environment."
Waste reduction coordinators have many different things to do. The most
important is managing the program to collect and handle recyclable waste.
This involves writing and administering the contract with a collection
contractor. They must make sure the contractor is meeting the terms of the
agreement. They also have to track costs and compile related statistics.
Waste reduction coordinators also plan and run other programs. They try
to tell people "about the importance of conserving natural resources and landfill
space," says Cooley.
This may include developing and distributing promotional and educational
literature. They might prepare and deliver presentations to various community
groups, schools and committees. They also handle customer concerns and questions.
Conducting waste audits is another task, according to Cooley.
This involves sorting through the garbage to separate certain types of
waste. Coordinators also work with the garbage hauler to change the way the
trash is collected. They make sure recycling services are convenient and easy
"You are dealing with the public, contractors and team members on an ongoing
basis. You must communicate requirements and other information in a timely
and appropriate manner," says Kitagawa.
A waste reduction coordinator "also needs excellent organizational skills,"
"A coordinator must multi-task, prioritize and handle a number of tasks
each day. Given the nature of the work, a coordinator has to be flexible."
Waste reduction coordinators may also administer household hazardous waste
programs and composting programs.
"Waste management coordinators are responsible for handling an increasing
number of different programs, not just specializing in one. It's important
to know the legislative requirements and what's being proposed," says Kitagawa.
"Volunteer on related committees to get a better appreciation of the industry.
Learn what's happening in other municipalities."
These coordinators typically work in an office setting. They spend a lot
of time making phone calls, preparing reports, lobbying for changes in recycling
legislation and educating the public on the benefits of recycling and reducing