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Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), enacted in 1976, is the principal Federal law in the United States governing the disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste.

History and Goals

Congress enacted RCRA to address the increasing problems the nation faced from its growing volume of municipal and industrial waste. RCRA, which amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965, set national goals for:

  • Protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal.
  • Conserving energy and natural resources.
  • Reducing the amount of waste generated.
  • Ensuring that wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.


EPA waste management regulations are codified at 40 C.F.R. pts. 239-282. Regulations regarding management of hazardous waste begins at 40 C.F.R. pt. 260. As noted below, most states have enacted laws and promulgated regulations that are at least as stringent as the federal regulations. Furthermore, the statute authorizes states to carry out many of the functions of RCRA through their own hazardous waste programs (and state laws), if such programs have been approved (authorized) by the EPA.

Subtitle A: General Provisions

Subtitle B: Office of Solid Waste

Subtitle C: "Cradle to Grave" requirements

While RCRA handles many regulatory functions of hazardous and non-hazardous waste, arguably its most notable provisions regard the Subtitle C program which tracks the progress of hazardous wastes from their point of generation, their transport, and their treatment and/or disposal. Due to the extensive tracking elements at all points of the life of the hazardous waste, the overall process has become known as the "cradle to grave" system. The program exacts stringent bookkeeping and reporting requirements on generators, transporters, and operators of treatment, storage and disposal facilities handling hazardous waste.

Subtitle D: Non-hazardous Solid Wastes

Subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) addresses non-hazardous solid wastes, including certain hazardous wastes which are exempted from the Subtitle C regulations such as: hazardous wastes from households and from conditionally exempt small quantity generators. Subtitle D also includes garbage (milk containers, coffee grounds), non-recycled household appliances, the residue from incinerated automobile tires, refuse such as metal scrap, wall board and empty containers, and sludge from industrial and municipal waste water and water treatment plants and from pollution control facilities.

Subtitle E: Dept of Commerce Responsibilities

Subtitle F: Federal Responsibilities

Subtitle G: Miscellaneous Provisions

Subtitle H: Research, development, info

Subtitle I: Underground Storage Tanks

Subtitle J: Medical Waste (expired)

RCRA Subtitle J regulated medical waste in specified states and expired on March 22, 1991. If determined to be hazardous, medical waste is currently regulated by RCRA Subtitle C for hazardous wastes.

Amendments and related legislation

In 1984 Congress expanded the law with the Hazardous and Solid Wastes Amendments of 1984. The amendments strengthened the law by covering small quantity generators of hazardous waste and establishing requirements for hazardous waste incinerators, and the closing of substandard landfills. In 1986, the law was expanded further to regulate underground storage tanks and other leaking waste storage facilities.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as "Superfund," was enacted in 1980 to address the problem of remediating abandoned hazardous waste sites, by establishing legal liability, as well as a trust fund for cleanup activities. In general CERCLA applies to contaminated sites, while RCRA's focus is on controlling the ongoing generation and management of particular waste streams. RCRA, like CERCLA, has provisions to require cleanup of contaminated sites that occurred in the past.

Treatment, storage and disposal facility permits

Treatment, storage, and disposal facilities (TSDFs) manage hazardous wastes under RCRA Subtitle C, and generally must have a permit in order to operate. While most facilities have RCRA permits, some continue to operate under what is called "interim status." Interim status requirements appear in 40 CFR Part 265.

The permitting requirements for TSDFs appear in 40 CFR Parts 264 and 270. TSDFs manage (treat, store, or dispose) hazardous wastes in units that may include: container storage areas, tanks, surface impoundments, waste piles, land treatment units, landfills, incinerators, containment buildings, and/or drip pads. The unit-specific permitting and operational requirements are described in further detail in 40 CFR Part 264, Subparts J through DD.

Other provisions

Whistleblower protection

RCRA contains a provision for whistleblower protection. Employees in the US who believe they were fired or suffered another adverse action related to enforcement of this law have 30 days to file a written complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Conservation agriculture

Conservation agriculture can best be thought of as by the statement given out by the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) “CA is a concept for resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits together with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment� (FAO 2007). With conservation agriculture (CA) there are two important elements that come with this process, two products that would seem unlikely put together. Agriculture and Conservation are two elements that seem unlikely but can coexist with each other. Agriculture according to the New Standard Encyclopedia is “one of the most important sectors in the economies of most nations� (New Standard 1992). At the same time conservation is the use of resources in a manner that safely maintains a resource that can be used by humans. Conservation has become critical on the fact that the world population has increased over the years and more food needs to be produced every year (New Standard 1992). Sometimes referred to as "agricultural environmental management", conservation agriculture may be sanctioned and funded through conservation programs promulgated through agricultural legislation, such as the U.S. Farm Bill.

Key principles

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has determined that CA has three key principles that producers (farmers) can proceed through in order to do the process of CA. These three principles outline what conservationists and producers believe can be done to conserve what we use for a longer period of time.

The first key principle in CA is practicing minimum mechanical soil disturbance which is essential to maintaining minerals within the soil, stopping erosion, and preventing water loss from occurring within the soil. In the past agriculture has looked at soil tillage as a main process in the introduction of new crops to an area. It was believed that tilling the soil would increase fertility within the soil through mineralization* that takes place in the soil. Also tilling of soil can cause severe erosion and crusting of soils which will lead to a decrease in soil fertility. Today tillage is seen as a way as destroying organic matter that can be provided within the soil cover. No-till farming has caught on as a process that can save soils organic levels for a longer period of time, and still allow the soil to be productive for longer periods of time (FAO 2007). Also with the process of tilling cause the time and labor for producing that crop. If no-till practices were being done then the producer would see a reduction in production cost for a certain crop because they no longer are tilling the ground. Tillage of the ground would require the farmer more money due to the fact of fuel for tractors or feed for the animals pulling the plough in order to till the ground. Also the producer would see a reduction in labor; this would be because the producer does not have to be in the fields as long as they would if he/she was a conventional farmer.

The second key principle in CA is much like the first principle in dealing with protecting the soil. The principle of managing the top soil to create a permanent organic soil cover can allow for growth of organisms within the soil structure. This growth will break down the mulch that is left on the soil surface. The breaking down of this mulch will produce a high organic matter level which will act as a fertilizer for the soil surface. If the practices of CA were being done for many years and enough organic matter was being built up at the surface, then a layer of mulch would start to form. This layer would help in preventing soil erosion from taking place and ruining the soils profile or layout. In the article “The role of conservation agriculture and sustainable agriculture� the layer of mulch that is built up over time will start to become like a buffer zone between soil and mulch that will help reduce wind and water erosion. Also, with this, comes the protection of a soils surface when rain is in the process of falling to the ground. Rainfall on land that is not protected by a layer of mulch is left open to the elements of being impacted directly by the rain. But when soils are covered under a layer of mulch, the ground is protected in a way so that the ground is not directly impacted by rainfall (Hobbs et al. 2007). This type of ground cover would also help in keeping both the temperature and moisture levels of the soil at a higher level rather than if it was tilled every year (FAO 2007).

The third and final principle that is exercised by the FAO is the practice of crop rotation with more than two crop species. According to an article published in the Physiological Transactions of the Royal Society called “The role of conservation agriculture and sustainable agriculture� crop rotation can be used best as a “disease control� against other preferred crops (Hobbs et al. 2007). This process will not allow pests such as insects and weeds to be set into a rotation with specific crops. Rotational crops will act as a natural insecticide and herbicide against specific crops. Not allowing insects or weeds to establish a pattern within fields will help to eliminate problems with yield reduction and infestations within fields (FAO 2007). Crop rotation can also help build up a soils infrastructure. Establishing crops in a rotation allows for an extensive build up of rooting zones which will allow for better water infiltration (Hobbs et al. 2007).

  • mineralization - The break down of organic mollecules in the soil into phosphates, nitrates and all the other "ates" which are then in a form which plants can utilize. Plowing increases the amount of oxygen in the soil and increases the aerobic processes, hastening the break down of organic material. Thus more nutrients are available for the next crop but at the same time, the soil is depleted more quickly of its nutrient reserves.


In Conservation Agriculture there are many examples that can be looked towards as a way of farming but at the same time conserving. These practices that are done now are known well by most producers. The process of no-till is one that follows the first principle of CA, with doing minimal mechanical soil disturbance. But no-till also brings other benefits to the producer who does no-till. According to the FAO tillage is one of the most “energy consuming� processes that can be done, in other words it takes a lot of labor, time, and fuel to do the process of tillage. Producers can save 30% to 40% of time and labor by practicing the no-till process. (FAO 2007)

Besides conserving the soil, there are also other examples of how CA is used in the world today. According to an article in Science called “Farming and the Fate of Wild Nature� there are also two more kinds of CA that can be used. The practice of Wildlife-Friendly Farming and Land Sparing are ideas that can be used if a producer is looking to be more conservative towards biodiversity (Green, et al. 2005).

The idea of Wildlife-Friendly Farming is a practice of setting aside land that will not be developed by the producer (farmer). This land will be set aside so that biodiversity has a chance to establish itself within areas along with agricultural fields. At the same time inside the fields the producer is taking attempts to lower the amount of fertilizer and pesticides used within the fields so that organisms and microbial activity have a chance to establish themselves in the soil and habitat as a whole (Green, et al. 2005). But as in all systems, not all can be perfect. In order to create a habitat su

Soil conservation

Soil conservation is a set of management strategies for prevention of soil being eroded from the earth’s surface or becoming chemically altered by overuse, acidification, salinization or other chemical soil contamination. It is a component of environmental soil science.

Crops and conservation

Decisions regarding appropriate crop rotation, cover crops, and planted windbreaks are central to the ability of surface soils to retain their integrity, both with respect to erosive forces and chemical change from nutrient depletion. Crop rotation is simply the conventional alternation of crops on a given field, so that nutrient depletion is avoided from repetitive chemical uptake/deposition of single crop growth.

Cover crops serve the function of protecting the soil from erosion, weed establishment or excess evapotranspiration; however, they may also serve vital soil chemistry functions. For example, legumes can be ploughed under to augment soil nitrates, and other plants have the ability to metabolize soil contaminants or alter adverse pH. The cover crop Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) has been used in Nigeria to increase phosphorus availability after application of rock phosphate. Some of these same precepts are applicable to urban landscaping, especially with respect to ground-cover selection for erosion control and weed suppression. soil is one of the three main natural resources alongside with water and air.


Windbreaks are created by planting sufficiently dense rows or stands of trees at the windward exposure of an agricultural field subject to wind erosion. Evergreenspecies are preferred to achieve year-round protection; however, as long as foliage is present in the seasons of bare soil surfaces, the effect of deciduous trees may also be adequate.

Erosion prevention


There are also conventional practices that farmers have invoked for centuries. These fall into two main categories: contour farming and terracing, standard methods recommended by the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service , whose Code 330 is the common standard. Contour farming was practiced by the ancient Phoenicians, and is known to be effective for slopes between two and ten percent. Contour plowing can increase crop yields from 10 to 50 percent, partially as a result from greater soil retention.

There are many erosion control methods that can be used such as conservation tillage systems and crop rotation.

Keyline design is an enhancement of contour farming, where the total watershed properties are taken into account in forming the contour lines. Terracing is the practice of creating benches or nearly level layers on a hillside setting. Terraced farming is more common on small farms and in underdeveloped countries, since mechanized equipment is difficult to deploy in this setting.

Human overpopulation is leading to destruction of tropical forests due to widening practices of slash-and-burn and other methods of subsistence farming necessitated by famines in lesser developed countries. A sequel to the deforestation is typically large scale erosion, loss of soil nutrients and sometimes total desertification.

Perimeter runoff control

Trees, shrubs and groundcovers are also effective perimeter treatment for soil erosion prevention, by insuring any surface flows are impeded. A special form of this perimeter or inter-row treatment is the use of a “grassway� that both channels and dissipates runoff through surface friction, impeding surface runoff, and encouraging infiltration of the slowed surface water.

Salinity management

Salinity in soil is caused by irrigating the crops by salty water during the evaporation the water from the soil evaporates leaving the soil behind causing salinization .Salinization causes the soil structure to break down causing infertility and the plants cannot grow.

The ions responsible for salination are: Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+ and Cl-. Salinity is estimated to affect about one third of all the earth’s arable land. Soil salinity adversely affects the metabolism of most crops, and erosion effects usually follow vegetation failure. Salinity occurs on drylands from overirrigation and in areas with shallow saline water tables. In the case of over-irrigation, salts are deposited in upper soil layers as a byproduct of most soil infi

Energy conservation

Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption. Energy conservation can be achieved through increased efficient energy use, in conjunction with decreased energy consumption and/or reduced consumption from conventional energy sources.

Energy conservation can result in increased financial capital, environmental quality, national security, personal security, and human comfort. Individuals and organizations that are direct consumers of energy choose to conserve energy to reduce energy costs and promote economic security. Industrial and commercial users can increase energy use efficiency to maximize profit.

Energy conservation policies

Electrical energy conservation is an important element of energy policy. Energy conservation reduces the energy consumption and energy demand per capita and thus offsets some of the growth in energy supply needed to keep up with population growth. This reduces the rise in energy costs, and can reduce the need for new power plants, and energy imports. The reduced energy demand can provide more flexibility in choosing the most preferred methods of energy production.

Climate change

By reducing emissions, energy conservation is an important part of lessening climate change. Energy conservation facilitates the replacement of non-renewable resources with renewable energy. Energy conservation is often the most economical solution to energy shortages, and is a more environmentally being alternative to increased energy production.

Energy conservation by country

The Republic of India

Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) [] is an Indian government body created in 1976 and engaged in promoting energy efficiency and conservation in every walk of life. In the recent past PCRA has done mass media campaigns in television, radio & print media. An impact assessment survey by a third party revealed that due to these mega campaigns by PCRA, overall awareness level have gone up leading to saving of fossil fuels worth crores of rupees besides reducing pollution.

Bureau of Energy Efficiency is an Indian governmental organization created in 2002 responsible for promoting energy efficiency and conservation.


Since the 1973 oil crisis, energy conservation has been an issue in Japan. All oil based fuel is imported, so indigenous sustainable energy is being developed.

The [ Energy Conservation Center] promotes energy efficiency in every aspect of Japan. Private entities are implementing the efficient use of energy for industries.


In Lebanon and since 2002 The Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) has been promoting the development of efficient and rational uses of energy and the use of renewable energy at the consumer level. It was created as a project financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Ministry of Energy Water (MEW) under the management of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and gradually established itself as an independent technical national center although it continues to be supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as indicated in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between MEW and UNDP on June 18, 2007.

New Zealand

In New Zealand the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority is responsible for promoting energy efficiency and conservation.

European Union

At the end of 2006, the European Union-EU pledged to cut its annual consumption of primary energy by 20% by 2020. The 'European Union Energy Efficiency Action Plan' is long awaited. As part of the EU's [ SAVE Programme], aimed at promoting energy efficiency and encouraging energy-saving behaviour, the Boiler Efficiency Directive specifies minimum levels of efficiency for boilers fired with liquid or gaseous fuels. The European Commission is funding large-scale research projects to learn about success factors for effective energy conservation programmes.

United Kingdom

Energy conservation in the United Kingdom has been receiving increased attention over recent years. Key factors behind this are the Government's commitment to reducing carbon emissions, the projected 'energy gap' in UK electricity generation, and the increasing reliance on imports to meet national energy needs. Domestic housing and road transport are currently the two biggest problem areas.

Responsibility for energy conservation fall between three Government departments although is led by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is still responsible for energy standards in buildings, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) retains a residual interest in energy insofar as it leads to emissions of CO2, the main greenhouse gas. The Department for Transport retains many responsibilities

From Yahoo Answers

Question:What are the most important resources we need to conserve?

Answers: Check the indicated websites for conserving natural resources.

Question:give equal points in each needed for school work for my friend

Answers:This is a huge topic and I can only give you some of the information because conservancy involves different things. Look at watershed conservancy. We need watershed to help control flooding and to provide a cleansing method for drinking water. However the disadvantages include landowners losing their land, making artificial boundaries that preclude certain animals and plants from their natural boundaries and the fact that some undesirable terrestrials move from watershed to watershed. Another area is forest management. One technique that is often used, is clear cutting. The advantages are that it cheap and easy, seeds can blow freely and regenerate a "natural forest" and it is possible to introduce a new species after clear cutting. The disadvantages are that with the trees gone entirely, so water can flow freely and soil becomes infertile and unstable, causing serious landslides. This happened to a friend of mine who lived on the shores of Lake Whatcom in Bellingham, Wash. Clear cutting above her home caused a huge log jam and a ton of water backed up behind it for years. Suddenly it let go and her home and the homes of many other people were washed into the lake. Scuba divers had to get her stuff..............

Question:Their ideology is big on protecting traditions and freedom so there is a legacy carried on to future generations. But when it comes to the natural wealth of the world, they want to plunder until there are no fish left to catch, no trees to cut down, no oil to drill or clean air to breath. Ignore science, that's just to far in the future to worry about now. How ironic they call themselves "conservative" when the last thing they want to do is conserve.

Answers:The Republican Party has a very long tradition of supporting industry. This goes back to the civil war, when the North was dominated by (then liberal) Republican party and it needed to support its industries to win the war. Since the, it has socially shifted to the conservative side, but retains its support of industries and corporations. And laws that would protect resources and the environment would (at least at first) financially weaken those corporations, which support Republican politicians. Oh, and kpk02, where exactly have you read that Global Warming is caused primarily by the Sun? As a reader of multiple science publications, I have not seen any serious theory saying anything that rejects the current theory. I would like to see your source please.

Question:tell me:- 1.wat r natural resources? 2.their types? 3.causes of their depletion? 4.practices could be done to conserve them. please help me!!!

Answers:1 -Sun and its energy 2 -Natural is natural only one type. Yes there are number of them 3 -Over use of it like Ground water it has been so much use that in some places the land has gone barren. 4 -Use it in limit the saying is 'Excess of every thing is bad'

From Youtube

Natural Resource Conservation :Interview with Biology Professor Robert Wilson Hamilton on economics and natural resources. "...I think we're realizing now in these economic times that a small profit over a long period of time is going to be much more acceptable than large profits over a short period...I think we're finding this out painfully." To see more, visit .

T-Claw :Conserve Natural Resources :T-Claw talks about the various ways we can conserve natural resources by sourcing locally and proper recycling. Filmed at "The Flaming Eggplant" Caf which is managed and run by students of Evergreen College in Washington State, USA.