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Recyclers/dismantlers take apart, separate, sort and sell materials to be recycled or reused.


Recyclers/dismantlers usually earn

$23-$25 per hour

Source: Reclaim and Hazara Auto Recyclers, 2020

Job opportunities

Job opportunities for recyclers/dismantlers are good due to increasing demand for their services.


Pay for recyclers/dismantlers varies depending on skills and experience.

  • New recyclers/dismantlers usually start on the minimum wage or a little more.
  • Experienced recyclers/dismantlers can earn up to $25 an hour.
  • Recyclers/dismantlers with managerial experience or who run their own business can earn more than this.

Sources: Reclaim, 2020; and Hazara Auto Recyclers, 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Recyclers and dismantlers may do some or all of the following:

  • buy and sort materials such as paper, plastics, glass or green waste for processing
  • collect and dispose of solid and hazardous waste
  • operate forklifts to load or unload materials
  • assess vehicles to buy or buildings to deconstruct 
  • remove all saleable parts from vehicles and buildings 
  • sell vehicle parts for reuse and remnants for scrap metal
  • sell salvaged building materials.  

Skills and knowledge

Recyclers/dismantlers need to have knowledge of: 

  • sorting and grading requirements for different materials
  • safety procedures and lifting techniques
  • the value of scrap metal, wood, fixtures, car parts and recyclable materials
  • using workshop tools and dismantling vehicles and buildings into usable parts quickly and carefully.

Some recyclers/dismantlers need to be able to drive heavy vehicles such as trucks, or operate heavy machinery such as forklifts.

Working conditions


  • work regular business hours or longer, and may work weekends
  • work indoors and outdoors at recycling depots, garages, workshops, and car-wrecking and demolition yards
  • may work in noisy and dirty conditions.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a recycler/dismantler as you gain skills on the job.

However, some employers prefer to hire recyclers/dismantlers who have or are working towards a qualification in zero waste and resource recovery, scrap metal recycling, composting or solid waste disposal. Revised resource recovery qualifications are currently being developed by industry training organisation MITO.

A driver's licence, heavy vehicle licence, or forklift (F) endorsement on your driver's licence is also useful. 

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a recycler/dismantler. 

Personal requirements

Recyclers/dismantlers need to be:

  • motivated
  • efficient
  • adaptable
  • reliable and punctual.

Useful experience

Useful experience for recyclers/dismantlers includes:

  • volunteer work at a community recycling centre
  • repairing cars as a hobby
  • forklift and loader driving
  • factory or warehouse work.

Physical requirements

Recyclers/dismantlers need to be reasonably fit and strong as they have to lift heavy objects.

What are the chances of getting a job?

Regular vacancies for recyclers  

Recycling is a growing industry, and employers regularly need people to fill vacancies because there is a moderately high turnover. 

Job opportunities for recyclers are best with businesses that contract to local council-run recycling schemes. However, job opportunities with commercial recycling companies are increasing. 

According to the Census, 816 recyclers/dismantlers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Government's aim to reduce landfill creates opportunities for recyclers

The Labour Government's goal to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, such as the introduction of a beverage container return scheme in 2022, is expected to increase opportunities for recyclers. 

The Government is also aiming to increase support for councils and businesses that recover and recycle more materials and this is expected to increase the demand for recyclers. 

Good opportunities for dismantlers

Opportunities for automotive dismantlers are growing due to steady demand from local panel beaters and overseas markets for mechanical parts. 

Opportunities for electronic waste dismantlers are also growing as more people recycle their e-waste and demand from overseas buyers for metals, such as gold and copper, from computer components increases.   

There are also opportunities for salvaging building materials, especially in Wellington as earthquake-prone buildings are brought up to Building Code standards. 

 Types of employers varied

Recyclers/dismantlers may work for local councils or community recycling businesses.

They also my work for private companies that specialise in:

  • collecting recycling from households
  • removing reusable waste from construction and demolition sites
  • processing scrap metal
  • car wrecking and recycling.


  • Ireland, B, national operations manager, Reclaim Ltd, interview, December 2020.
  • Moynihan, P, managing director, Computer Recycling, interview, December 2020. 
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Vakili, A, manager, Hazara Auto Recyclers, interview, December 2020. 

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Recyclers/dismantlers may progress to set up their own business, or move into supervisor roles.  

Recyclers may specialise in recycling a certain type of material such as metal, plastic or glass.

Automotive dismantlers often specialise in dismantling certain types of vehicles such as trucks, four-wheel drives or Japanese cars.

Last updated 4 April 2023