In 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which regulates the proper disposal of all hazardous and non-hazardous wastes generated in the United States. The RCRA covers the management of “Solid Wastes”. Solid Wastes include both non-hazardous and hazardous waste streams. Solid wastes can be physically solid, gaseous, or liquid material. The definition of a solid waste is as follows:
“Any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility, and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semisolid or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural operations and from community activities.”
Close to everything we do creates waste.
A solid waste can be abandoned, inherently waste like, a discarded military munition, or recycled. Products that are being used for their intended use are not considered waste like.
Several materials are excluded from the definition of Solid Waste. These materials are excluded for a variety of reasons including public policy, economic impacts, regulation by other laws, lack of data or impracticability of regulating the waste. Some of the key wastes that are not solid wastes include:
- Radioactive Wastes (Regulated Under Separate Regulation)
- Excluded Scrap Metal
- Hazardous Secondary Material that is:
- generated and legitimately reclaimed within the United States or its territories and under the control of the generator,
- generated and then transferred for the purpose of the reclamation, or
- generated and then transferred to another person for the purpose of remanufacturing.
Non-hazardous waste materials are considered a subset of the RCRA regulations and fall under Federal Regulations 40 CFR 239 through 259. This set of regulations covers the following items:
- Subtitle D Landfill Regulations
- Thermal (Incinerator) Regulations for Non-Hazardous Wastes and Municipal Waste
- Solid Waste (Hazardous and Non-Hazardous) used as fuels for ingredients in combustion units
- Guidelines for the storage and collection of residential, commercial and institutional wastes
- Source separation for material recovery guidelines
- Procurement guidelines for products containing recovered materials