The Tazewell County Health Department’s proposed 20-year Resource Recovery and Management Plan unveiled Thursday would extend the life of local landfills, saving the county money.

“If we can divert recyclable waste from local landfills, we can extend the life of those landfills,” said Evelyn Neavear, Tazewell County Health Department Director of Environmental Health. “That helps the county, because it saves the community money by having a place to dispose of our waste locally instead of having to haul it a long way or ship it.”

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency requires county health departments to update their Resource Recovery and Management Plans every five years. Neavear unveiled the long-range plan during a public meeting at the Tazewell County Health Department in Tremont Thursday. The plan is the result of more than a year of planning, community meetings and work group meetings.

“We met in South Pekin, Morton, East Peoria and Tremont,” Neavear said. “We also developed a Solid Waste Advisory Group. They met several times here at the Health Department to discuss the plan.”

The initiative will focus on industrial, commercial and institutional strategies to increase recycled material. Neavear hopes that Tazewell County will be able to increase recycled material 10 percent by 2021 and 25 percent by 2028.

“The action plan is really loaded at the front end, between 2018 and 2023,” she said. “We want to provide no-cost technical assistance to businesses and institutions, we want to provide waste audits for them, we want to identify opportunities to recover and divert waste, and we want to identify emerging waste streams.”

The Tazewell County Resource Recovery and Management Plan also proposes waste reduction through food and organic waste recovery efforts as well as stepping up recycling efforts at multi-family housing units and special events.

Neavear expects the Tazewell County Board’s Health Services Committee to review the plan next month. From there, it will be passed to the board’s executive committee before being addressed by the full county noard. Although the plan has not yet been formally adopted, the Health Department has put some aspects of the strategy into operation.

“We have started some implementation of the program, which we call the Green Initiatives Program,” said Neavear. “We have done special events like the Tremont Turkey Festival and Good Neighbor Days. Instead of going to the landfill, the waste products from those events were composted. We’ve been dealing with organic waste coming out of restaurants and diverting it to a compost facility.”

The Tazewell County Health Department has also received an Illinois County Solid Waste Management grant, and several local facilities have committed to recycling organic materials, Neavear said.