Cook County Approves Solid Waste Plan Stressing Diversion

Illinois’ Cook County has approved a new solid waste plan that emphasizes waste reduction, reuse and recycling and aims for eventual zero waste.

The board for the county, which includes Chicago, said in a news release that the first new solid waste plan for the region in 12 years emphasizes more reuse of building components; promotes backyard composting; and calls for the creation of electronic waste disposal sites for residents.

Construction and demolition (C&D) materials are the largest component of the county’s waste stream going to landfills, with more than 1,700 tons in 2007. Landscape waste and other organics accounted for 1,500 tons that year. With e-waste disposal, Illinois banned the landfilling of electronics beginning this year.

Cook County has one landfill, in Dolton, and it has seven years of capacity left. Reported recycling rates in suburban Cook County in 2009 ranged from 46 percent from the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, 11 percent from the West Cook County Solid Waste Agency and 21 percent from the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association. The county said getting better recycling information is also one of its goals.

“We have a responsibility to the residents of Cook County, and future generations, to employ creative and aggressive measures to reduce solid waste in our communities,” said board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Our Solid Waste Management Plan is taking the first step in meeting this environmental challenge, and we are working toward a visionary goal of 100-percent waste diversion from landfills.”

Illinois requires a recycling goal of 25 percent, but Deborah Stone, county chief sustainability officer, believes higher rates are possible for the region.


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