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- Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, which amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act, was the first meaningful effort by Congress to establish a regulatory structure for the management of solid and hazardous wastes. Subtitle C of RCRA addresses "cradle-to-grave" requirements for hazardous waste from the point of generation to disposal. Subtitle D of RCRA contains less restrictive requirements for non-hazardous solid waste. The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984 established additional waste management requirements and added Subtitle I, which imposes management requirements for underground storage tanks (USTs) that contain petroleum or hazardous substances. Most RCRA requirements are not industry specific but apply to any company that transports, treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous waste.
For hazardous materials to be regulated as hazardous waste, they must first fall under the regulatory definition of solid waste, and then within the definition of hazardous waste. A waste can be hazardous either by exhibiting a characteristic of a hazardous waste or by falling under a category of listed hazardous wastes. Hazardous waste characteristics include toxicity, corrosivity, ignitability, and reactivity and are designated with the code "D". Listed hazardous wastes include discarded commercial chemical products (designated with the code "P" or "U"), hazardous wastes from specific industries/sources (designated with the code "K"), and hazardous wastes from non-specific sources (designated with the code "F"). Examples of each of these waste types are: D001, ignitable wastes, U159, Methyl ethyl ketone; K050, oily sludge from a petroleum refinery; and F001, halogenated solvents.