Recyclable Materials Sorter

Separate glass, paper, or plastic to keep processing machines from jamming.
picture of Recyclable Materials Sorter

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$18,000 – $49,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Recyclable Materials Sorters do?

As anyone who’s washed a red sock with a load of whites knows, there are just some things in life that need to be sorted. Recycling is a lot like doing the laundry—it can’t all be put in at once if you want to get good results. As a Recyclable Materials Sorter, you group everything into three categories: glass, paper, and plastic.

Though it might seem pretty black and white, this type of division is necessary for recycling. Each category is dealt with a different way when it’s recycled, and it wouldn’t really work to have plastic bottles in with stacks of newspaper. Mixing recyclables can jam or break machines, or just cause a big, unusable mess of broken-down products.

Your job as a Recyclable Materials Sorter starts when people drop off recyclables at the recycling plant. You break open the bags or boxes they’ve brought, and begin to move everything into the proper area.

While you go through the stuff, you look for dangerous objects, like metal, that can either hurt a person or wreck the machine. These pieces get tossed in the trash, and everything else gets ready to go through the recycling machine. As the Sorter, you might also be in charge of operating the machine, or you might just spend your days moving objects where they need to go.

Recyclable Materials Sorters can find this job at college campuses, city recycling plants, or even in large apartment buildings.

Should I be a Recyclable Materials Sorter?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • How to Become a
    Recyclable Materials Sorter

    Recyclable Materials Sorters generally graduate from high school and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate’s degree to increase your chances of finding a good job. Check out these schools offering Recyclable Materials Sorter-related education!
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