Do you ever think about your dustbins? What happens every week to the thousands of tons of rubbish thrown into them every day - waste food, packaging, empty containers, plastic bags? What happens to discarded batteries, old mobile phones, computers, washing machines, used engine oil from cars and lorries, clinical waste from hospitals and chemicals from industrial production? What about those countless pairs of old trainers thrown away every year? And why do some rivers and canals turn blue in summer? Can anything be done about the blanket of murky atmosphere polluting Britain's cities in summer?
The technical complexity and economic importance of wastes management, pollution control and recycling will increase dramatically in coming years. Local authorities now urge us, as never before, to recycle plastic and glass bottles, newspapers, tins, cardboard and garden rubbish, but most waste goes to county landfill sites which are fast running out of space. Waste disposal and recycling are now major concerns of government, environmental bodies, local authorities and industry, and there is a pressing urgency for society to reduce its waste and for experts to find solutions for managing the growing environmental problems.
Example areas of study
Wastes management can be studied as a module on some environmental management or environmental science courses but there are few specialist courses. The following is a list of example topic areas that you may be able to study but it is important to check with the institutions that you wish to apply to before you submit your application.
- Landfill science, design and operation
- Organic wastes management
- Waste collection and treatment
- Wastes minimisation and recycling
- Chemical analysis
- Air and water
- Air quality
- Pollution studies
- Contaminated land
- Environmental risks and hazards
- Environmental legislation
- Health and safety
- Research methods
Some career possibilities
Wastes management career opportunities are expanding fast, with graduates working as recycling officers, as advisors of large companies, and in a variety of different roles in waste production, treatment and disposal. You may be able to work in a wide range of organisations, such as local authorities, waste disposal operators, environmental organisations and regulatory bodies.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for courses in this are listed below with the list intended as a guide. It is important to check the specific requirements with the institution that you wish to apply to before you submit your application. The lower grades are for entry onto HNDs and foundation degrees with the higher grades for entry onto degree-level courses.
- UCAS Tariff: 60 - 200 points usually including a science subject
- A-level: D - BB usually including a science subject
- BTEC National Diploma: relevant subject
For your application or interview, evidence of the following could be useful:
- Knowledge of your local council's recycling policies and activities
- Information about your own waste recycling of, for example, newspapers, glass, cardboard, plastic and tin, and your methods for composting garden rubbish
- Further information is available from The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk
Some of this article was developed from You Want to Study WHAT?! Volume I, 2nd edition by Dianah Ellis, published by Trotman & Company Ltd, 2003.