Waste treatment engineer

Waste treatment engineer article illustration


Waste treatment engineers design processes, facilities and equipment for waste collection, treatment, and distribution. They research environmental standards and policies in order to optimise waste treatment procedures and ensure minimal strain on the environment by analysing and classifying the processed waste.

Here are some typical tasks waste treatment engineers carry out:

  • Assess and classify different types of waste, including solid, liquid, and hazardous waste, to determine appropriate treatment methods.
  • Design and develop waste treatment systems, incorporating technologies such as biological treatment, chemical processes, and physical separation methods to address specific waste streams.
  • Conduct environmental impact assessments to evaluate the potential effects of waste treatment processes on air, water, soil, and surrounding ecosystems.
  • Ensure compliance with local, national, and international waste management regulations and standards, guiding the design and operation of treatment facilities accordingly.
  • Explore opportunities for resource recovery and recycling within waste streams, aiming to minimize the amount of waste sent to landfills.
  • Design and optimize wastewater treatment processes, including biological treatment, chemical precipitation, and filtration, to meet discharge standards and protect water quality.
  • Develop landfill designs and management plans to safely and efficiently dispose of non-recyclable waste, addressing issues such as leachate management and gas collection.
  • Investigate and implement waste-to-energy systems, such as incineration or anaerobic digestion, to generate energy from certain types of waste while minimizing environmental impact.
  • Implement measures to control emissions from waste treatment processes, including air pollution control technologies and odor management.
  • Continuously monitor and optimize waste treatment processes, utilizing data analysis and technology to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance environmental performance.
  • Engage with local communities to address concerns, provide information on waste treatment processes, and incorporate public input into decision-making processes.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to waste treatment engineer:

waste treatment engineering expert
industrial waste treatment engineer
waste treatment engineering specialist
waste treatment technology engineering adviser
waste treatment engineering consultant
waste treatment technology engineer
waste treatment engineering adviser
waste treatment technology engineering consultant
waste treatment engineers
waste treatment technology engineering expert
waste treatment technology engineering specialist

Working conditions

Waste treatment engineers work in various settings, including waste treatment plants, consulting firms, government agencies, and research institutions. The role may involve fieldwork, interdisciplinary team collaboration, and safety protocol adherence.

Minimum qualifications

To become a waste treatment engineer, a bachelor’s or master’s degree in environmental engineering, civil engineering, or a related field is typically required. Practical experience gained through internships, co-op programs, or research projects contributes to the development of waste treatment engineers. Continuous learning, staying updated on waste management technologies and regulations, and engaging with the broader environmental engineering community enhance the effectiveness of waste treatment engineers. Strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills are crucial for addressing the complex challenges associated with waste treatment.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Waste treatment engineer is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Waste treatment engineer career path

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Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of waste treatment engineer.

  • Energy market: The trends and major driving factors in the energy trading market, energy trade methodologies and practice, and identifying the major stakeholders in the energy sector.
  • Energy: Power capacity in the form of mechanical, electrical, heat, potential, or other energy from chemical or physical resources, which can be used to drive a physical system.
  • Engineering principles: The engineering elements like functionality, replicability, and costs in relation to the design and how they are applied in the completion of engineering projects.
  • Technical drawings: Drawing software and the various symbols, perspectives, units of measurement, notation systems, visual styles and page layouts used in technical drawings.
  • Characteristics of waste: Expertise in the different types, chemical formulas and other characteristics of solid, liquid and hazardous waste.
  • Environmental legislation: The environmental policies and legislation applicable in a certain domain.
  • Engineering processes: The systematic approach to the development and maintenance of engineering systems.
  • Waste and scrap products: The offered waste and scrap products, their functionalities, properties and legal and regulatory requirements.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of waste treatment engineer.

  • Develop waste management processes: Develop equipment, methods, and procedures that can be applied in various types of waste treatment and disposal facilities in order to improve the efficiency of waste management processes, reduce environmental impact, and ensure the safety of staff operational in waste management.
  • Develop hazardous waste management strategies: Develop strategies that aim to increase the efficiency in which a facility treats, transports, and disposes of hazardous waste materials, such as radioactive waste, chemicals, and electronics.
  • Adjust engineering designs: Adjust designs of products or parts of products to meet requirements.
  • Perform scientific research: Gain, correct or improve knowledge about phenomena by using scientific methods and techniques, based on empirical or measurable observations.
  • Use technical drawing software: Create technical designs and technical drawings using specialised software.
  • Maintain waste collection records: Maintain records on waste collection routes, scheduling, and types and volume of waste collected.
  • Monitor legislation developments: Monitor changes in rules, policies and legislation, and identify how they may influence the organisation, existing operations, or a specific case or situation.
  • Develop non-hazardous waste management strategies: Develop strategies that aim to increase the efficiency in which a facility treats, transports, and disposes of non-hazardous waste materials, such as packaging, textiles, scraps, debris, and paper.
  • Assess environmental impact: Monitor environmental impacts and carry out assessments in order to identify and to reduce the organisation’s environmental risks while taking costs into account.
  • Approve engineering design: Give consent to the finished engineering design to go over to the actual manufacturing and assembly of the product.
  • Advise on waste management procedures: Advise organisations on the implementation of waste regulations and on improvement strategies for waste management and waste minimisation, to increase environmentally sustainable practices and environmental awareness.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of waste treatment engineer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Radioactive contamination: The different causes of the presence of radioactive substances in liquids, solids, or gases or on surfaces, and the manner in which to identify the types of contaminants, their risks, and the contaminants’ concentration.
  • Decontamination techniques: The methods and techniques used for the decontamination of waste by removing or neutralising the harmful substance.
  • Pollution legislation: Be familiar with European and National legislation regarding the risk of pollution.
  • Hazardous waste types: The different types of waste that pose risks to the environment or public health and safety, such as radioactive waste, chemicals and solvents, electronics, and mercury-containing waste.
  • Pollution prevention: The processes used to prevent pollution: precautions to pollution of the environment, procedures to counter pollution and associated equipment, and possible measures to protect the environment.
  • Radiation protection: The measures and procedures used to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of waste treatment engineer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Assess waste type: Identify waste materials during collection and sorting operations that can either be recycled, disposed of, or otherwise treated in order to assess the way in which they need to be treated and sorted.
  • Ensure compliance with waste legislative regulations: Implement and monitor company procedures for the collection, transport and disposal of waste, in compliance with all regulations and legal requirements.
  • Liaise with local authorities: Maintain the liaison and exchange of information with regional or local authorities.
  • Advise on pollution prevention: Advise individuals and organisations on the development and implementation of actions that aid in the prevention of pollution and its related risks.
  • Report test findings: Report test results with a focus on findings and recommendations, differentiating results by levels of severity. Include relevant information from the test plan and outline the test methodologies, using metrics, tables, and visual methods to clarify where needed.
  • Develop radiation protection strategies: Develop strategies for facilities and organisations which are at risk for exposure to radiation or radioactive substances, such as hospitals and nuclear facilities, for the protection of people within the premises in case of risk, as well as the minimisation of radiation exposure during working operations.
  • Instruct employees on radiation protection: Explain the various legal and operational measures established in the company against radiation, such as reducing exposure time and wearing protective gear, to the employees and communicate the emergency procedures.
  • Use testing equipment: Use equipment to test the performance and operation of machinery.
  • Document analysis results: Document on paper or on electronic devices the process and the results of the samples analysis performed.
  • Monitor disposal of radioactive substances: Ensure correct management and disposal of radioactive substances used for medical purposes, in compliance with established procedures.
  • Test samples for pollutants: Measure concentrations of pollutants within samples. Calculate air pollution or gas flow in industrial processes. Identify potential safety or health risks such as radiation.
  • Promote environmental awareness: Calculate the carbon footprint of business processes and other practices in order to promote sustainability and to raise awareness for the environmental impact.
  • Advise on environmental risk management systems: Evaluate requirements and advise on systems for environmental risk management. Ensure the customer does his part in preventing or limiting adverse environmental impact through the use of technology. Ensure required licenses and permits are obtained.
  • Analyse experimental laboratory data: Analyse experimental data and interpret results to write reports and summaries of findings
  • Monitor waste treatment equipment: Monitor the operations of equipment used for the treatment and disposal of hazardous or non-hazardous waste to ensure that it is functional, compliant with legislation, and to check for faults.
  • Advise on environmental remediation: Advise on the development and implementation of actions which aim to remove sources of pollution and contamination from the environment.
  • Monitor radiation levels: Use measuring and testing equipment and techniques to identify the levels of radiation or radioactive substances in order to control exposure and minimise health, safety, and environmental risks.
  • Manage the environmental impact of operations: Manage the interaction with and impact on the environment by companies. Identify and assess the environmental impacts of the production process and related services and regulate a reduction of the effects on the environment and on people. Organise action plans and monitor any indicators of improvement.
  • Ensure compliance with radiation protection regulations: Make sure the company and the employees implement the legal and operational measures established to guarantee protection against radiation.
  • Develop environmental remediation strategies: Develop strategies for the removal of pollution and contaminants from soil, groundwater, surface water, or sediment, taking into account environmental remediation regulations and available technologies.

ISCO group and title

2143 – Environmental engineers

  1. Waste treatment engineer – ESCO
  2. Waste Management Engineer – Salary, How to Become, Job Description & Best Schools – Online Degree
  3. Featured image: Photo by Pok Rie
Last updated on January 21, 2024