Waste collector

A waste collector, sanitation worker, dustman, binman (in the UK), garbageman or trashman (in the USA) is a person employed by a public or private enterprise to collect and dispose of waste (refuse) and recyclables from residential, commercial, industrial or other collection site for further processing and waste disposal. Specialised waste collection vehicles featuring an array of automated functions are often deployed to assist waste collectors in reducing collection and transport time and for protection from exposure. Waste and recycling pickup work is physically demanding and usually exposes workers to an occupational hazard.

Health and safety hazards

Statistics show that waste collection is one of the most dangerous jobs, at times more dangerous than police work, but consistently less dangerous than commercial fishing and ranch and farm work. On-the-job hazards include broken glass, medical waste such as syringes, caustic chemicals, objects falling out of overloaded containers, diseases that may accompany solid waste, asbestos, dog attacks and pests, inhaling dust, smoke and chemical fumes, severe weather, traffic accidents, and unpleasant smells that can make someone physically sick.[1][2]

Scavengers and recyclers

In many developing countries, the first people to tackle the waste collection are pickers (scavengers) working in the informal economy, i.e. they may be self-financing through recycling, repairing, and reselling. Examples include the bottley-wallah, recycler of many sorts of materials in India, castes such as the Zabbaleen in Egypt, or tip scavenger groups in Brazil such as documented in the film Hauling.

In India people performing manual labour as sanitation workers are also called manual scavengers.

Regional names

Many varieties of English have a range of names for waste collectors, from formal job titles for municipal employees, to colloquial and regional terms.

Notable individuals

  • Eugène Poubelle  French official who ordered that all Paris landlords supply their tenants with covered garbage containers in 1884. The standard French term for a garbage can, boîte Poubelle, is named after him.

Former waste collectors

Fictional waste collectors

See also


  1. Lubin, Gus; Lincoln, Kevin (21 September 2011). "The 15 Most Dangerous Jobs In America". Business Insider. No. 7: Refuse and recyclable material collectors. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  2. Holbrook, Emily (20 September 2011). "The 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in America  Risk Management Monitor". Risk Management Monitor. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  3. "The silence of the bottle-oh". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 15 December 1951. p. 2. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  4. Thomson, John; Smith, Adolphe (1877). "Flying Dustmen". Street Life in London. Victorian London. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  5. Sun, Baltimore. "Welcome to the MMA Insider blog on baltimoresun.com".
  6. Voytko, Eric (2016). "Refuse trucks on film". Classic Refuse Trucks. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  7. "My Dad, the Garbage Man/Poor Muffy". IMDb. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  8. Star Twinkle PreCure episode 29


  1. The Australian term garbo stems from a now-disused street cry used by garbagemen during the early 20th century. [3]
  2. The British term dustman stems from the Victorian era, when men would collect the dust (ashes and cinders) created by the many tons of fossil fuels burned in cooking ranges at the time.[4]

Further reading

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