Solid Waste Association of North America

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The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of public and private sector professionals committed to advancing solid waste as a resource. SWANA supports issues ranging from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. SWANA provides industry professionals with technical 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, Washington, D.C. In the summer of 1981, GRCDA moved their offices to Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. 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 10,000 members. SWANA hosted the International Solid Waste Association World Congress in Baltimore in September 2017.

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


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 encourages networking across the United States and Canada, allowing members to access resources and get answers to questions.

  • Technical Divisions
    • Collection & Transfer — SWANA's Collection & Transfer Division deals primarily with the efficiency and reliability of the collection and transfer of refuse and recyclables. Key issues in the field include route design, innovative technologies, health and safety, and contracting and franchising.
    • Communication, Education & Marketing — SWANA's Communication, Education and Marketing Division (CEM) uses words and images to network, spread ideas and promote solid waste industry interests to the public and decision makers.
    • Landfill Gas & Biogas — SWANA’s Landfill Gas and Biogas Division is an authority on issues surrounding landfill gas (LFG) recovery, control, management, utilization, system design, operation, and maintenance.
    • Landfill Management — SWANA's Landfill Management Division 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
    • Sustainable Materials Management — SWANA's Sustainable Materials Management (formerly known as Recycling & Special Waste) Division works to provide and promote state-of-the-art approaches to improving management and profitability of waste reduction, recycling, composting and special waste programs.
    • Energy-from-waste — SWANA's Waste Conversion and Energy Recovery (WCER) Division works to ensure that waste-to-energy technology, and other emerging waste combustion technologies, are recognized as some of the forms of waste management.
  • SWANA currently has 47 local chapters in which attendees can participate in forums, training sessions, local legislation, and networking.

Training and Certification[edit]

SWANA provides solid waste training throughout North America for facility policy-makers, managers, owners and operators, and industry consultants.


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.

See also[edit]

  • Chartered Institute of Wastes Management CIWM
  • International Solid Waste Association ISWA
  • Waste management
  • Institute of Professional Environmental Practice


  1. "About SWANA". Retrieved 2017-11-29.

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