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, which is the equivalent of 8,200 tons per day or 6.7 pounds per capita per day.
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 2012 gives an overview of the types of waste that is generated in the County, where its coming from and where its going. This informs the County’s plan for increasing diversion and decreasing waste going directly to landfills.