The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was established in 1976 as an amendment to the 1965 Solid Waste Disposal Act, with the dual purpose of protecting human and environmental health and reducing waste. In Georgia, RCRA is enforced by the Hazardous Waste Management Branch of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD), which is a part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Seminole Road Landfill
Seminole Road Landfill

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

By the late twentieth century the United States was producing millions of tons of waste annually. RCRA was enacted by the U.S. Congress to address the management and disposal of these solid and hazardous wastes. The legislation’s main goals include protecting human and environmental health from waste disposals, conserving energy and natural resources, decreasing the generation of wastes, and making certain that wastes are managed properly. RCRA contains nine subtitles, each of which addresses a particular issue of resource conservation and waste management.

Subtitle A: General provisions

Subtitle B: Office of Solid Waste; authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator

Subtitle C: Hazardous-waste management from generation to disposal

Subtitle D: Nonhazardous solid wastes; state or regional solid-waste plans

Subtitle E: Duties of the secretary of commerce in resource recovery

Subtitle F: Federal responsibilities

Subtitle G: Miscellaneous provisions

Subtitle H: Research, development, demonstration, and information

Subtitle I: Underground storage tanks

These regulations identify the requirements of proper waste disposal and management for a sustainable environment. RCRA provisions are continually changing to address new issues; in 1984, for example, the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) were enacted.

Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments

The HSWA of RCRA were created in the wake of public opposition to the improper disposal of hazardous wastes, and their passage marked a turning point for the advancement of hazardous-waste disposal practices. Of the approximately seventy provisions established by HWSA, more than fifty required the EPA to take action within the first year of the bill being signed.

HSWA brought about a number of changes, including the creation of programs and specific requirements for waste disposal. For example, the Land Disposal Restrictions (LDR) program ensures that toxic constituents present in hazardous waste are properly treated before that waste is disposed of on land. Under the LDR program mandatory technology-based treatment standards must be met before hazardous waste is placed in a landfill. HSWA also established RCRA Corrective Action requirements, which pertain to the parties responsible for hazardous waste releases into air, soil, groundwater, and surface water. The Corrective Action requirements also strengthen the federal enforcement of RCRA by expanding the list of prohibited actions. If someone is found in violation of these prohibited actions, criminal penalties may ensue.

Georgia Programs

Georgia has established a variety of programs to implement changes in waste management practices for future environmental sustainability. One specific example is the state’s waste-reduction plan program. Administered by the Hazardous Waste Management Branch of Georgia’s EPD, this plan requires that all large-quantity generators submit a waste-reduction plan every two years. These plans must outline current waste production at the facility and include procedures for reduction of that waste. Another state program is Recycle 4 Georgia. Organized by the Office of Environmental Management of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Recycle 4 Georgia provides local governments with recycling trailers for use at special events.

Recycle 4 Georgia
Recycle 4 Georgia

Courtesy of Recycle 4 Georgia

Share Snippet Copy Copy with Citation

Updated Recently

Christian Science

Christian Science

5 days ago
Alice Walker

Alice Walker

5 days ago
Etowah Mounds

Etowah Mounds

1 week ago
Baptists Today

Baptists Today

1 week ago

Explore Georgia’s rich music history

From blues and soul to classical and country—our Spotify playlists feature 130+ songs written and performed by Georgians.

Image

Seminole Road Landfill

Seminole Road Landfill

An employee at the Seminole Road Landfill in DeKalb County separates old car tires from rims in preparation for recycling. The management of solid and hazardous waste is covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, which was passed to help protect human and environmental health and to reduce waste.

Courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Photograph by Rich Addicks..

Recycle 4 Georgia

Recycle 4 Georgia

Recycle 4 Georgia is a program administered by the Office of Environmental Management of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The program encourages local governments to manage waste through recycling by providing recycling trailers for special events.

Courtesy of Recycle 4 Georgia