Chemical factory with smoke stack

What is the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1978?

The RCRA (or Resource and Recovery Act of 1976) gives the EPA the right to control hazardous waste from the cradle to the grave. This includes the generation, treatment, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. The resource and recovery act also set forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous solid wastes. In 1986 there were amendments address to the plan that enabled the RCRA to address the environmental problems that could result from tanks the store petroleum and other hazardous substances underground.

The HSWA or federal hazardous and solid waste amendments are the 1984 amendments to the RCRA that focused on the minimization of waste, phasing out land disposal of hazardous waste as well as corrective action for releases. Other mandates with this law include increased enforcement authority for the EPA and more strict hazardous waste management standards and a comprehensive underground storage tank program.

This law was enacted to protect human health and the environment from potential hazardous waste disposal. It is also meant to conserve energy and natural resources. Plus it was meant to reduce the amount waste that id generated, Ensuring that wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.

In order to accomplish these things the RCRA established three distinct and interrelated programs.

The solid waste program under the RCRA encourages states to develop comprehensive plans that manage nonhazardous industrial solid waste and municipal solid waste. It also sets criteria for municipal solid waste in landfills and other solid waste disposal facilities.  It prohibits the open dumping of solid waste.

The hazardous waste program under the RCRA establishes a system for controlling hazardous waste from the time it is generated until it is disposed of.

The UST or underground storage tank program under the RCRA regulates underground storage tanks that contain hazardous substances and petroleum products.