SWAT’s central belief and purpose of forming is that rural Alaska communities are fully capable of operating safe and sustainable waste management programs and facilities that will protect their residents and subsistence resources. Not only are they capable, but to truly protect public health, they are the only entity that can manage their waste capably. Regional and state services are logistically too far away to handle the daily activity of managing a wastestream safely, and it is only the local community that is aware of the changing and often exigent waste circumstances they must handle.

The most valuable outcome of regional and statewide gatherings is the information sharing among communities on what is working. It is for this purpose that SWAT actively seeks to facilitate roundtables and breakout sessions for their conference presentations at ATCEM and AFE each year.

Additionally, SWAT believes that regional and state waste services and systems have a great potential to lower costs and expand opportunities for improved waste management. For example, Backhaul Alaska started because the small rural community populations result in a very unfavorable economy- of-scale and their isolation and remoteness results in extreme freight and construction costs. But shared programs and projects can only work if they are designed by and for rural Alaska.

SWAT regularly engages with rural Alaska community environmental professionals, waste management staff, and council members to find out what is happening in their communities, what types of equipment and activities are working, and what types of training is needed.