Timeline October 1976

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was passed to protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal.

By the 1970s, the United States was generating 200 million metric tons of hazardous waste a year. Up to 90% of these wastes were probably disposed of improperly. Enacted in 1976, RCRA regulates hazardous waste from "the cradle to the grave." That is, it regulates how hazardous waste is generated, transported, stored, treated, and disposed of.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for enforcing RCRA. EPA can delegate hazardous waste management to states with waste management programs at least as stringent as the EPA program.

RCRA was amended in 1984 to prohibit hazardous waste from being disposed of on land unless the hazardous components "won't migrate from the disposal unit as long as the waste remains hazardous" or the waste is pretreated to EPA standards.