Waste Reduction and Recycling

Service Information

Check out our new Story Map on where your waste and recycling go from the curb!

The Illinois Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act (415 ILCS 15/) requires counties to develop an initial solid waste management plan and subsequent plan updates “that place substantial emphasis on recycling and other alternatives to landfills, to encourage municipal recycling and source reduction, and to promote composting of yard waste.” Cook County ordinance further requires an advisory committee be formed to “review the plan during its preparation, make suggestions and propose any changes it believes appropriate.” 

An update to the Suburban Cook County Solid Waste Management Plan was introduced to the Cook County board on June 6. On July 25th 2018, the Solid Waste Management Plan Update 2018 was approved by the Board of Commissioners.

The plan will help set priorities to promote safe, practical, environmentally beneficial and economically sound solid waste management practices for suburban Cook County. This update addresses issues and opportunities in curbside recycling, food scrap composting, household hazardous waste, electronic waste, and construction and demolition debris.

Suburban Cook County encompasses 127 municipalities, as well as unincorporated areas, with a combined population of approximately 2.5 million.  Residents, businesses and public facilities in suburban Cook County generate approximately three million tons of waste annually. In 2016, Cook County municipal waste hauler data indicated that haulers collected an estimated 8.2 pounds per household per day of waste and an estimated 1.87 pounds per household per day of recyclable materials.

Increasingly, fewer and larger private sector companies are providing waste collection, recycling and disposal services and facilities. The role of county and local governments, in relation to waste management, has shifted from the provision of services and facilities to matters relating to policy formulation, public education and information. Recycling and source reduction programs have been broadly accepted by the public and have significantly reduced the quantity of waste needing disposal. Current recycling rates in suburban Cook County exceed 25 percent. Improved performance is possible but each additional increment will be more difficult and more costly to achieve.

As more recycling programs come on line and more materials are recovered, additional uses and markets must be secured for products and materials with recyclable content.

Cook County Submits a Solid Waste Plan update to the Illinois EPA every 5 years. The most recent Plan Update, approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2018 gives an overview of the types of waste that is generated in the County, where its coming from and where it’s going. This informs the County’s plan for increasing diversion and decreasing waste going directly to landfills.