What is your job and what does it involve?
I’m a Refuse Collector Driver. At the moment I work on the blue bin rounds. In a way it’s harder than the black bin rounds, as we often have to walk further, but the black bins tend to be heavier. It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other, really.
How did you end up in your current role?
I started as a temp doing refuse collection in 2008, and came on board with the Council full-time in August 2012.
In 2015 the opportunity came up to apply for my Heavy Goods licence, and I got it. Now I’m working with the team on a new in-vehicle computer system to modernise how we record collections.
There is potential to progress to clinical waste in future. I’m not sure if I’ll go for that; I like being out in the community.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with the crews is definitely a big part of what I enjoy.
I also like speaking to the public. There’s not always time for a natter, as we do have a shift to finish, but I’ve always got time for someone who wants to come out to speak to us.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
People taking out their frustration on us when we can’t take their bin.
The blue bin rounds do seem to get more issues. If the bin has got a contaminating item, we put a tag on it to say why we haven’t taken it. Some people are happy to listen, and will even take the incorrect items out there and then. But others can react differently – people are very passionate about their bins.
What motivates you when you have to start work at 6.00am on a cold, dark and icy December morning?
My wife and kids motivate me. Also, I really like working outdoors, so it’s not too bad. You might think it’s really cold at that time on a December morning, but you’ll soon warm up when you’re working at the back of a lorry!
Moving the trucks is harder when it’s icy, but generally I find it easier driving them than my own car.
How does this role fit into the community?
I think we’re a big part of the community, because when we’re not there collecting bins people really notice.
Over Christmas is an example. We like the time off of course to be with our families, just like everyone else. But we’re there at the start of the year collecting everyone’s rubbish from over the holiday.
What makes the best kind of crew to work with and how important is a good crew?
There are a few things you need: patience, willing, forward thinking, and team players. Most important of all is coordination. If you don’t have that, you’re in for a bad day.
People don’t believe how tough the job is, but Derby is growing. People say ‘bin men used to smile and whistle, and collect your bin from your garden’ but we didn’t have as many places back then. Good morale can make the job much easier.