RCRA's solid waste management program encourages environmentally sound solid waste management practices that maximize the reuse of recoverable material and foster resource recovery. The term "solid waste" is very broad, including not only the traditional nonhazardous solid wastes, such as municipal garbage, but also some hazardous wastes. RCRA Subtitle D addresses solid wastes, including those hazardous wastes that are excluded from the Subtitle C regulations (e.g., household hazardous waste) and hazardous waste generated by conditionally exempt small quantity generators (CESQGs).
The U.S. EPA recommends an integrated, hierarchical approach for managing municipal solid waste that includes1,2
1. Source reduction
Here, source reduction and recycling are the preferred elements of the system.
Subtitle D focuses on state and local governments as the primary planning, regulating, and implementing entities for the management of nonhazardous solid waste, such as household garbage and nonhazardous industrial solid waste. U.S. EPA provides these state and local agencies with information, guidance, and policy and regulations through workshops and publications to help states and the regulated community make better decisions in dealing with waste issues, to reap the environmental and economic benefits of source reduction and recycling of solid wastes, and to require upgrading or closure of all environmentally unsound disposal units. In order to promote the use of safer units for solid waste disposal, U.S. EPA developed federal criteria for the proper design and operation of landfills and other solid waste disposal facilities. Many states have adopted these criteria into their state solid waste programs.
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