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Who We Are

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy and research. For more than 60 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses.

SWANA is now the largest member-based solid waste association in the world, with 47 Chapters in the U.S, Canada and the Caribbean. SWANA is the United States National Member of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), and participates and supports ISWA events and programs.

Our prominent and nationally 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 is a supporting organization of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) and a National Member of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) for the United States and Canada.

SWANA Tax Status

SWANA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in California and operating with headquarters in Maryland. It is the mission of SWANA to advance the industry from solid waste management to resource management through an emphasis on education, advocacy and research. This qualifies donors to be eligible to deduct contributions to SWANA under the exempt purposes of IRS Code Section 501(c)3. SWANA is also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, legacies, devises, transfers, or gifts under IRC Sections 2055, 2106, and 2522.


Forward, Together

SWANA Strategic Plan 2023–2027 is available to the general public.

Our Initiatives

Safety officer surveying landfill

SWANA has a strong commitment to safety and is determined to help move the waste collection industry off of the federal government’s list of 10 most dangerous jobs and reduce accidents and injuries.

materials recovery workers sorting recycling

SWANA is a leading expert on recycling and materials recovery. We work with members, municipalities, and leaders to respond to recycling challenges.

3D rendering of Teflon molecule

PFAS are a group of manmade fluorinated compounds causing public health concerns. SWANA provides some information and resources on PFAS as part of our role as environmental and public health stewards.

Our History

SWANA has a long and storied history. Here are some key highlights. 

  • In 1961 a small group of local government solid waste program supervisors in the Los Angeles 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 1st 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.

  • In 2015, Dr. Skinner retired and David Biderman was selected as Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer.

  • SWANA recognized as organization of the year by Waste Dive.

  • In March, David Biderman concludes his almost eight-year tenure as executive director and CEO. Following his departure, Richard Yep, CAE, FASAE, assumed the role of Interim Executive Director in April 2023. Fast forward to November 2023, and SWANA warmly embraces Amy Lestition Burke, CAE, FASAE, as its new Executive Director/CEO.