The history of LCSWMA began in 1954 when the city of Lancaster and several surrounding municipalities formed the Lancaster Area Refuse Authority, better known as LARA. During these years, LARA operated several landfills, one on the former Lancaster Brick Company site that is now a wooded region that hosts extensive hiking trails. The other landfill was closed and capped in the late 1960s and now forms part of the Lancaster County Central Park.
In 1968, LARA constructed the Creswell Landfill, located south of Columbia in Manor Township. The Creswell Landfill served the county's needs for 21 years before it was closed and capped in 1989. In the 1980s, with technology advancing and the amount of trash rapidly increasing, LARA recognized the need for an up-to-date, comprehensive plan to manage the disposal needs of the entire county.
In 1986, after several years of research by a solid waste advisory committee, LARA was renamed the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority to encompass its new mission to manage solid waste and recyclable materials in an environmentally safe, reliable and efficient manner for all of Lancaster County. The new plan mandated a new landfill, a waste-to-energy facility and waste-reduction programs (recycling).
In 1988, guided by a new state law, LCSWMA augmented its new plan of an Integrated System by opening a Household Hazardous Waste Facility that would serve the community by accepting hazardous materials (computers, cell phones fluorescent bulbs, car batteries, paint, etc.) and disposing of them in an environmentally safe manner. Each year, LCSWMA processes more than 600,000 tons of waste through the facilities that comprise the Integrated System: the Transfer Station, the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, the Waste-to-Energy Facility and the Frey Farm Landfill.
In addition, LCSWMA coordinates recycling programs for municipalities
and local businesses.
In 2013, LCSWMA acquired the Susquehanna Resource Management Complex (SRMC), formerly known as the Harrisburg Resource Recovery Facility or "incinerator" to ensure future waste processing capacity for both the Lancaster and Dauphin County communities, while also offering additional flexibility to LCSWMA's already robust Integrated System.
Over the last several decades, LCSWMA has grown tremendously. From its humble beginnings of one employee and one bulldozer, LCSWMA has increased to a staff of 90+ full-time, 10+ part-time and several seasonal employees. A multi-million dollar operation that manages close to a million tons of municipal solid waste, LCSWMA is now a regional waste management authority serving both Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. LCSWMA has transformed from a flow-control dependent operation to a thriving organization focused on diversified business opportunities, green operations practices and long-term community sustainability.