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updated: 8/10/2014 6:40 AM

Recycling options part of Lake County waste management plan

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  • Sorters sift through refuse at the Waste Management Recycle America Lake County Processing Facility in Grayslake.

       Sorters sift through refuse at the Waste Management Recycle America Lake County Processing Facility in Grayslake.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

Recycling options are in while incineration is out as Lake County considers how to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills.

The latest edition of a guide to managing garbage also includes recommendations such as getting more food scraps out of the waste stream. State law requires the county to update the plan every five years. Lake County generates about 1.1 million tons of waste per day -- about 9.6 pounds per person.

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In 2009, a draft of the plan included incineration as an allowable waste disposal method. However, that prompted a backlash from some environmentalists, and it was withdrawn after considerable debate.

This time, incineration never surfaced as an option for the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, which prepares and is responsible for implementing the plan, and it has worked with a citizens advisory committee on the 2014 update.

"It certainly is easier to work collaboratively rather than in opposition," said Barbara Klipp, a Grayslake resident co-founder of the Incinerator Free Lake County and executive director of the newly formed Midwest Sustainability Group.

The advisory group met three times and produced a draft management plan, but there are several steps before it is submitted to the Lake County Board for approval this fall. A public meeting to discuss the document is scheduled for Aug. 28 at the Hainesville village hall.

The updated plan provides an overview of the current status of recycling and composting, as well as recommendations to help Lake County boost its recycling rate from 47 percent to 60 percent by 2020.

The 2009 plan also included several suggestions to reduce the amount of waste put into landfills.

All residents living in unincorporated Lake County, for example, are required to have recycling service as part of their garbage pick up. Lake County also operates the largest electronics recycling program in the state, with nearly 4 million pounds taken from 41 collection sites. That program has been expanded to businesses and schools.

The proposed 2014 plan contains no big program changes but aims to build on gains made by the 2009 plan and includes additional recommendations to help boost recycling and composting.

One of the most significant recycling suggestions in 2009 was to create a task force to boost the recycling rate to 60 percent by 2020.

As a result, the 60% Recycling Task Force was created in 2011. Since then, several new programs have been established in various communities, including larger recycling carts at no cost and mandatory recycling of construction and demolition debris. That task force report is incorporated in the 2014 plan and there will be increased emphasis on certain aspects, such as multifamily and commercial recycling.

"It's fairly significant what the SWALCO members have done with that 60 percent plan," said Walter Willis, executive director of the waste agency.

Lake County already has one of the highest recycling rates in the state, Willis said. But further significant progress won't be seen until recycling programs are expanded in the multifamily and commercial sectors, he added.

"Those are areas we have to focus and hammer on," Willis said.

A goal of the new plan is to increase collection and composting of organic materials, such as landscape waste and food scraps. Member communities will be encouraged to implement residential food scrap collection programs as part of the hauling contracts or licensing requirements, for example.

The agency also wants to assist members in getting cost estimates as part of new hauling contracts for a year-round three-cart collection system to include organics.

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