Solid Waste Association of North America

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For more than 50 years, The Solid Waste Association of North America, (SWANA) has been the leading professional association in the solid waste management field. SWANA is an organization of professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management. The association serves more than 8,300 members throughout North America, and thousands more with conferences, certifications publications and technical training courses.[1]

Organization History[edit]

In 1961 a small group of local government solid waste program supervisors in the Los Angeles, California, basin formed the Governmental Refuse Collection and Disposal Association (GRCDA) to provide a means for solid waste professionals to share information and promote training.

By 1978, GRCDA had grown to about 900 members in 10 chapters in various western states and parts of Canada and hired its first Executive Director, Lanny Hickman. July 1 of that year, GRCDA established its first permanent office at 16th & K. Street, NW. In the summer of 1981, GRCDA moved their offices to Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, In 1992, GRCDA changed its name to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) to reflect how the field had broadened from refuse collection and disposal to all aspects of municipal solid waste management. When Lanny Hickman retired in 1996, John H. Skinner, Ph.D., was selected as Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer. Skinner retired in April 2015, and has been succeeded by David Biderman.

Having grown and broadened its membership of public sector and private sector municipal solid waste management professionals, SWANA is now the largest member based solid waste association in the world with 45 Chapters, in the U.S, Canada and the Caribbean and more than 8,300 members.

SWANA’s acclaimed technical conferences and training programs cover all aspects of integrated municipal solid waste management, and the association is a major policy and technical representative of solid waste management practitioners, executives, companies and government organizations.


SWANA membership includes seven technical divisions. These technical divisions provide members with the most convenient methods to keep track of hot topics, connect with experts, and shape the future of solid waste management. Access to each division's electronic forum and email-based community encourages networking across the United States and Canada, allowing members not only to access resources and get answers to questions.

  • Technical Divisions
    • Collection & Transfer — As the largest single budget item in solid waste management, collection and transfer deals primarily with efficiency and reliability. Key issues in the field include route design, innovative technologies, health & safety, and contracting & franchising.
    • Communication, Education & Marketing — The communication, education, and marketing division seeks to enhance the way solid waste organizations interact with their surrounding communities.
    • Landfill Gas — Recognized as the premier authority on issues surrounding landfill gas recovery, control, management, utilization, system design, operation, and maintenance, this technical division promotes the use of landfill gas as a sustainable and renewable energy source.
    • Landfill Management — This division's wide-reaching technical focus helps provide practical solutions to the multitude of issues and challenges concerning the planning, design, construction, closure, and post-closure care of today's landfills.
    • Planning & Management — This division focuses on developing innovative solutions to the most pressing questions and challenges faced by today’s solid waste decision-makers, and provides subscribers with the information they need to stay on the cutting-edge of the solid waste field.
    • Recycling & Special waste — This division's mission to balance environmental sustainability and the economic feasibility of minimizing municipal solid waste disposal is reflected throughout the Division’s many events, activities and focused technical content.
    • Waste-to-Energy — This division's mission is to ensure that this technology, and other emerging waste combustion technologies, are recognized for what they are—some of the cleanest and most responsible forms of waste management
  • Chapters: SWANA currently has 45 local chapters in which attendees can participate in forums, training sessions, local legislation, and networking.

Education and Training[edit]

SWANA is committed to educating solid waste professionals throughout North America. SWANA provides solid waste training for facility policy-makers, managers, owners and operators, and industry consultants. Thousands of solid waste professionals have participated in SWANA's training and education programs to learn about industry best practices and promising new technologies.

Applied Research Foundation[edit]

Through the vision and commitment of a group of SWANA members, the Applied Research Foundation was created in the fall of 2000. The goal of the foundation is to support SWANA’s mission through leveraging research dollars to conduct collectively-funded and defined applied research projects that address pressing solid waste issues.

By working together, subscribing organizations have the unique opportunity to determine what research topics should be addressed and to participate in the conduct of the research. The results of this research increase knowledge and efficiency by directly confronting problems of the industry.


SWANA hosts several conferences and events throughout the year providing members and other industry professionals the opportunity to meet with their peers, share ideas and discuss solutions.


WASTECON® is the premier solid waste industry-focused conference that brings you the latest news, education, advancements and products to help you achieve success in your business, all in one setting. The 54th Annual WASTECON conference will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana from August 22–25, 2016.


SWANApalooza features at least four key solid waste industry events, SWANA's Landfill Symposium, Landfill Gas & Biogas Symposium, Road to Zero Waste Conference and SWANA's Spring Training & Exam Center—all in one place at one time—making industry information, education and networking more accessible and affordable.

In 2016, SWANApalooza also will feature the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP) Workshop and the 2016 Fleet Management Expo.

NAWTEC (North American Waste to Energy Conference)[edit]

NAWTEC is the industry’s premier conference and trade show focusing on municipal waste-to-energy policy and business management.


Each year SWANA recognizes a selected few who have excelled in terms of commitment, achievements, and contributions.

  • Excellence Awards — This program recognizes outstanding solid waste programs and facilities that advance the practice of environmentally and economically sound solid waste management through their commitment to utilizing effective technologies and processes in system design and operations, advancing worker and community health and safety, and implementing successful public education and outreach programs.
  • Professional Achievement Awards — These awards recognize valuable, and distinguished, contributions to the Association, the individual's employing organization, and the general public.
  • Scholarships — In order to prepare the next generation for the environmentally and economically sound practice of solid waste, SWANA has developed several scholarship and internship programs over the years for students studying in fields related to solid waste management.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About SWANA". Retrieved 2015-11-19. 

External links[edit]