Resource Conservation and Recovery

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. Major amendments to RCRA include the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984, the Federal Facilities Compli ance Act of 1992, and the Land Disposal Program Flexibility Act of 1996. The stated goals of RCRA include:

1. Protection of the environment and human health from waste disposal hazards

2. Reduction in waste by treatment, reuse, and recycling material

3. Cooperation among the federal, state, and local governments for better waste management

4. Enhancement of waste management practices through research, development, and training

Specific provisions to accomplish these broad goals include (1) a prohibition on future open land dumping and conversion of existing open dumps to safer facilities, and (2) promulgation of guidelines for solid waste collection, transport, separation, recovery, and disposal practices and systems.

RCRA recognized that effective waste management practices needed to control the generation of waste rather than just the disposal of wastes. Major regulatory mandates of RCRA address management of solid waste, management of hazardous waste, and regulation of underground storage tanks. CERCLA addresses unused and abandoned hazardous facilities, while RCRA focuses on current and proposed facilities. As a preventive measure, the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 prohibits future land disposal of untreated hazardous wastes and requires timely closure of existing facilities of this type.

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