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Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Introduction

In 1976, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) mandating the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and implement a program to protect human health and the environment. The goal of all environmental regulations is to protect human health and the environment. The hazardous waste regulations are found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 260 through 299. RCRA was designed to create a hazardous waste management program which properly manages hazardous chemical wastes from their point of generation to their ultimate disposal. This has often been referred to as "from cradle to grave" management. The liability for generation of hazardous waste will always stay with the generator. Generators of hazardous wastes are required by law to train their workers concerning the proper identification, segregation, labeling, and handling of waste materials and to ensure that proper disposal is accomplished. Professionals are required to complete RCRA training online before enagining in hazardous waste activities. RCRA Part A and Part B permitting must be done for any facility that treats, stores or disposes of hazardous waste for greater than 90 days. Congress enacted RCRA in 1976 as an amendment to the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. It was the first federal statute to address solid waste. There are several amendments to RCRA, the most important being the 1984 Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA).

RCRA hazardous waste site

The regulations for implementing RCRA are outlined in 40 CFR 260–265. Because RCRA is a complicated law, understanding its provisions requires a great deal of interpretive guidance. RCRA's major goals are to reduce wastes and providing for conservation of resources. RCRA's other goals include protecting human health and the environment from potential harm caused by improper waste disposal and (after being amended in 1984) from leaking underground storage tanks. RCRA's management requirements for solid waste and hazardous waste can create a significant administrative and compliance burden on a campus. In most cases, individual states implement and manage the federal RCRA program, as they do with many other federal environmental programs. State environmental protection agencies implement their RCRA programs after receiving approval from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although these approved state programs operate in lieu of the federal program, EPA retains regulatory oversight over every state program. Although approved programs must provide at least equivalent protection as the federal RCRA standards, states have some flexibility with their own programs. Although no state program can be less restrictive than federal regulations, states may create more stringent requirements by law, rule, or interpretation. RCRA gave EPA and state agencies the authority to require management of hazardous wastes from "Cradle-to-Grave." It also set forth a framework for the management of nonhazardous solid wastes, created a comprehensive underground storage tank (UST) program, and required financial surety for cleanup of releases on operating facilities. In general, the RCRA program established the definitions of solid and hazardous wastes; the design and operational requirements for landfills, incinerators, USTs, etc.; the design, operation, and management requirements for hazardous waste handling and storage containers and structures; a permitting system for entities that create, manage, transport, treat, or dispose of hazardous wastes, including requirements for cleanup of any releases and financial bonding to ensure the availability of funds for possible future cleanups; a cradle-to-grave manifest system used to track hazardous waste; and the liability of the entity (such as a campus) that produces wastes.

Key Concepts

Solid Waste "Solid waste" is the regulatory term for "garbage," "trash," or "refuse." Solid wastes can be liquids, contained gasses, or solids.

— Solid and Hazardous Waste. Hazardous Waste Hazardous wastes are a specific category of solid wastes.

— Solid and Hazardous Waste. Waste Streams A waste stream or waste category refers to each type of waste a campus might generate. For example, computer wastes are one waste stream, laboratory waste solvents are another.

Hazardous Waste Regulations

The U.S. EPA is responsible for the adminstration of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). All industries who generate solid wastes must comply with RCRA. RCRA regulates the mangement and disposal of all solid and hazardous wastes. RCRA has 3 main categories of hazardous waste generators - conditionally exempt small quantity generator (CESQG), small quantity generator (SQG) and large quantity generator (LQG). Depending upon your category, different requirements have to be met in order to comply with RCRA.

Subtitle C established a "cradle to grave" system of requirements for:

Identifying hazardous wastes. Regulating generators of hazardous waste. Regulating transporters of hazardous waste. Regulating owners and operators of facilities that treat, store and dispose of hazardous waste. Issuing operating permits to Treatment, Storage and Disposal facilities, and Providing for corrective action for hazardous waste releases.

Generators of Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste generators are divided into three categories, based on the amount of waste produced, and are subject to different levels of regulation. RCRA training online or otherwise must be conducted for each category. The three types of hazardous generators are: (For more detailed information, refer to the links under each generator type.) OSHA HAZWOPER training may apply as well.

Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators (CESQGs): generate less than 100 kg (220 lbs) of hazardous waste, or less than 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of acutely hazardous waste per month.

Small Quantity Generators (SQGs): generate between 100 kg (220 lbs) and 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs) of hazardous waste per month. You may accumulate no more than 6,000 kg of hazardous waste on your site for up to 180 days before the waste must be shipped to a treatment, storage or disposal facility. If the nearest treatment, storage or disposal facility is over 200 miles away, you may accumulate your waste for up to 270 days. You are allowed to accumulate your waste for as long as 180 or 270 days so that you will have time to accumulate enough hazardous waste to economically ship it off-site for treatment or disposal. You can accumulate hazardous waste in 55-gallon drums, tanks or other containers compatible with the type of waste generated if you follow certain common-sense rules that are meant to protect human health and the environment, and reduce the likelihood of damages or injuries caused by leaks or spills of hazardous wastes. If you exceed these time or quantity limits, you will be considered a hazardous waste storage facility. Hazardous waste storage facilities must first obtain a hazardous waste storage permit and must meet all of the RCRA facility requirements before storing hazardous waste for periods greater than allowed for generators.

Large Quantity Generators (LQGs): generate over 1,000 (kg) (2,200 lbs) of hazardous waste, or over 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of acutely hazardous waste per month. You may accumulate hazardous waste on your site for up to 90 days, before the waste must be shipped to a treatment, storage or disposal facility. You can accumulate hazardous waste in 55-gallon drums, 85 gallon overpacks, tanks, or other containers compatible with the type of waste generated if you follow certain common-sense rules that are meant to protect human health and the environment, and reduce the likelihood of damages or injuries caused by leaks or spills of hazardous wastes. If you exceed this time limit, you will be considered a hazardous waste storage facility. Hazardous waste storage facilities must first obtain a hazardous waste storage permit and meet all of the RCRA facility requirements before storing hazardous waste for periods greater than allowed for generators.

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