A fresh look at landfill – Meet Cleanaway Graduate Program’s Charana Wijerathna

Charana is Cleanaway’s first graduate civil engineer under Cleanaway’s Graduate program

Our People

November 3, 2020

Highlights

As our society continues to advance, our waste needs will continue to grow. Cleanaway’s goal of ensuring a safe environment for future generations is something that I am proud to be a part of.

Highlights

As our society continues to advance, our waste needs will continue to grow. Cleanaway’s goal of ensuring a safe environment for future generations is something that I am proud to be a part of.

Charana Wijerathna graduated from Melbourne’s RMIT University with a bachelor’s degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering and joined Cleanaway’s Graduate Program in 2020. We spoke with him to find out what his experience has been like and what he’s learnt so far about what waste has to do with sustainability.

Charana Wijerathna

What has your experience in the graduate program been like so far?
It has been an honour to be chosen to participate in Cleanaway’s first graduate program as a graduate civil engineer. With the opportunity to tour some of Cleanaway’s sites (including organics, liquids and medical waste processing facilities), I have been given an incredible amount of exposure that has allowed me to further appreciate the purpose and philosophy of the business. It has been an eye-opening experience to get a sense of the waste we produce as a society and to learn how that waste must be managed with as little risk to the environment as possible.

What’s involved in a graduate program? How does it work?
My program consists of four rotations, each at different Cleanaway sites around Melbourne. My first rotation was with the Remediation team at Clayton South where I learned the anatomy of a landfill and all the infrastructure, equipment and team effort that supports it. I was involved with assisting the team with day-to-day operations while at the same time learning valuable knowledge with every project I was exposed to.

The remediation manager and project engineer gave me insight into what is involved when it comes to designing and engineering a landfill cell. Studying how geosynthetic layers and soil layers work in harmony to provide protection from weathering and water infiltration to the landfill cell and the waste inside was an interesting exploration.

I learnt that the waste cannot simply be dumped inside a landfill and forgotten. The waste will produce gas and liquid by-products as it decomposes for decades. These by-products must be managed by a network of infrastructure and continuously monitored.

With the help of the post closure technical lead and the post closure specialist, I conducted site inspections, which is a key component of the monitoring that occurs after a landfill has been closed. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to work with contractors to understand how they operate and what their needs are when coming to fulfill the design that Cleanaway has laid out.

What has it been like to join Cleanaway as a graduate?
I feel fortunate to be a part of Cleanaway and its supportive work culture. I am greeted with colleagues who were once in the same position as me starting out in their career and have learnt from their achievements and mistakes.

I have also felt an incredible amount of support during the COVID-19 period. The company holds mental health workshops and has introduced measures to ensure that employees may continue to work in these trying times.

As our society continues to advance, our waste needs will continue to grow. Cleanaway’s goal of ensuring a safe environment for future generations is something that I am proud to be a part of. Cleanaway is making tomorrow a brighter place.

Cleanaway’s Graduate Program

In 2019, Cleanaway launched our Graduate Program, designed to create career pathways for recent graduates through hands-on experience and insight into Cleanaway and the waste management industry as a whole.

The Graduate Program is tailored for people who have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the previous two years and involves rotating placements lasting up to six months, offered in areas including:

  • Engineering (Civil/Chemical)
  • Chemistry/Environmental Science
  • Supply Chain & Logistics

The launch of the program saw hundreds of applications submitted, with the successful graduates commencing with Cleanaway in early 2020.

Cleanaway is committed to promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, driven by employment and decent work for all. We are aligned to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as described in our 2020 Sustainability Report.

Contact us to learn more about the incredible people who are making a sustainable future possible through a career with Cleanaway.