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Environment and natural resources
Waste management and recovery

Waste management and recovery

Various opportunities exist for graduates in the areas of waste management, disposal and recovery. Organisations such as the Environmental Protection Agency employ graduates with technical and science backgrounds and environmental, ecology, chemical engineering and health and safety specialisms to implement and monitor waste disposal and recovery processes.
The recovery of waste is a significant contributor to economies, with a strong market demand for materials such as plastics, metals and organic waste products. A range of jobs exists in the development of composting and other anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies.

Various opportunities exist for graduates in the areas of waste management, disposal and recovery. Organisations such as the Environmental Protection Agency employ graduates with technical and science backgrounds and environmental, ecology, chemical engineering and health and safety specialisms to implement and monitor waste disposal and recovery processes. The expertise of design, engineering, science, technical and ICT graduates is required in the development of even more advanced technologies in waste processing equipment and processes. Skills are sought in the following areas:

  • Generating energy from waste, composting and anaerobic digestion (AD)
  • Trading and investment in waste
  • The management of hazardous waste
  • Health and safety
  • Landfill management
  • Organics recycling
  • Plant equipment
  • Recycling and recovery
  • Refuse collection vehicles
  • Refuse derived fuels
  • Security
  • Software
  • Standards and certification
  • Policy development

Waste management

A recent ESRI study estimated that the volume of municipal waste is set to increase substantially (within the next ten years in particular). This will necessitate further investment in waste management infrastructure which is good news for graduates, particularly engineers. Programmes in Ireland, north and south, aim to increase awareness of the environmental impact of excess consumption and waste and improve the co-ordination of regional waste management plans.

Recycling and waste recovery

The recovery of waste is a significant contributor to economies, with a strong market demand for materials such as plastics, metals and organic waste products. A range of jobs exists in the development of composting and other anaerobic digestion (AD) technologies. Graduate expertise is also required into researching how resources can be recovered from waste and in recycling it into new materials. EU legislation such as the Waste Framework Directive and the Landfill Directive set government targets to ensure that increasing quantities of waste are recovered or recycled and that bio-degradable municipal waste is diverted from landfill. There is particular interest in the development of adequate infrastructure to treat organic or ‘brown’ waste (particularly food) that must be collected separately and diverted from landfill. Roles for graduates also exist within environmental regulatory bodies in developing outlets for the products of organic waste treatment.