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.