In 1989, Lake County became the first county in Illinois to adopt a solid waste management plan in compliance with the Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act. The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) was formed in 1991 to implement the Lake County Solid Waste Management Plan, and currently is composed of members from 45 municipalities, including Lake County and Great Lakes NTC, representing approximately 85% of the county's population.
In 2014, the SWALCO Board prepared and the Lake County Board approved the most recent 5 year update to the plan. The 2014 plan update set a 60% recycling goal for 2020. Lake County is currently recycling 48% of its municipal waste. Achieving the 60% goal will require SWALCO's members to continue exploring and enhancing recycling programs and implementing more programs to divert food scraps and other organic material from final disposal.
In 1996, the SWALCO Board of Directors adopted a mission statement the following mission statement to guide the Agency as it carries out programs, policies and activities.
The purpose of the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, Illinois is to implement a regional approach to solid waste management which addresses the economic, political and environmental issues in Lake County as follows:
Implement the Lake County Solid Waste Management Plan.
Facilitate an efficient, reliable and environmentally sound waste disposal system.
Advise and assist SWALCO members regarding solid waste management issues.
Educate the public regarding implications of solid waste management options.
Identify, evaluate and disseminate information regarding techniques to reduce, reuse and recycle the amount of solid waste generated.
The goals of SWALCO are closely tied to the mission statement, with the overall goal being to provide Lake County residents with the programs and infrastructure necessary to divert as much material from final disposal as possible. Further, it is the Agency's goal to achieve this diversion economically, to create jobs, and to minimize impacts to the environment.