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male chemist jar

A Day In The Life… Of A Biffa Chemist

Posted in Corporate
On 11 Mar 2021
By Jessica Keynes

Welcome to the fourth instalment of the ‘Day in the Life’ blog series, a tell-all account from the people who help shape Biffa. In this post, we will be delving into the daily tasks and duties of Senior Transfer Station Chemist at Biffa’s Wednesbury Treatment Centre in the West Midlands, part of the Industrial & Commercial Specialist Services division.

male chemist jar

Let me introduce you to Nadeem Riasat, a Biffa veteran of 13 years and a science lover from a young age. Chemistry was his favourite subject at school, and he always saw himself working in a science-related role, here’s why being Nadeem loves his role at Biffa.

What enticed you to work for the waste industry?

It was pretty much my first job out of University. The plan was to gain some experience before moving on, but I enjoy the job, so I decided to stay.

What qualifications did you need for the role?

To be a chemist at a waste transfer station, you need a Higher National Diploma in Chemistry or a similar subject.

Do you work as part of a team?

I oversee a team of three site chemists and four operatives.

What does your typical day look like?

First thing in the morning, one of the chemists or I will run a download of the vehicles routed into site for the day so we can plan for the waste scheduled in and out. Tasks will then be handed out to the chemists for the day. These include:

  1. checking the waste coming in against the pre-acceptance information provided by the customer,
  2. preparing loads for external disposal either into the plant or to third party disposal sites,
  3. and compliance checks to ensure the waste is segregated and stored in line with the environmental agency guidance.

I will also speak to the operative’s supervisor to discuss the container requirements for the day, the priorities for waste processing, the outbound loads that will need to be prepared and any issues we might have with equipment. The Op’s supervisor will then delegate the work to the other operatives.

What equipment/materials do you working with?

We have a piece of equipment called ‘the runi’ which we use to process water based paint tins. The machine separates the paint from the paint tins. The paint will then go to the plant for further treatment before disposal. This is subject to a paint sample being tested by the lab for plant suitability. The paint tins will go to a third party waste disposal company for further treatment and recycling.

What are the biggest challenges of the job?

We are always chasing space. The transfer station bays have a finite capacity, so the challenge is to make sure you have enough capacity to accept the next load. We routinely have additional jobs that come in at the last minute, for which we have to generate the space. It’s a team effort to get the waste processed and outbound loads organised and booked into third party disposal sites.  

What are the biggest rewards?

When we can service the last minute jobs in a safe and compliant manner. Working shifts means I can do the school run in the morning.

Do you have any advice for someone who wanted to work as a chemist in the waste industry?

Be prepared to work in all weather. It’s not for everyone, but if you prefer not to sit in front of a desk from 9-5, this role might be for you.

female chemist jar

If you like the sound of being a chemist for Biffa, check out our latest vacancies.

*all images are for illustration purposes only.