The Office of Solid Waste changed its name to the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, effective January 18, 2009.
Nearly everything we do leaves behind some kind of waste. Households create ordinary garbage while industrial and manufacturing processes create solid and hazardous waste. EPA regulates all this waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). RCRA's goals are to:
- Protect us from the hazards of waste disposal;
- Conserve energy and natural resources by recycling and recovery;
- Reduce or eliminate waste; and
- Clean up waste, which may have spilled, leaked, or been improperly disposed.
Wastes: Hazardous and Non-Hazardous
Hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or potentially harmful to human health or the environment. In regulatory terms, a RCRA hazardous waste is a waste that appears on one of the four hazardous wastes lists (F-list, K-list, P-list, or U-list), or exhibits at least one of four characteristics - ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.
EPA also is responsible for overseeing the effective disposal of non-hazardous wastes, from common household garbage to large-scale industrial wastes and materials. These wastes and materials are not specifically hazardous, and have opportunities for reduction, reuse, and recycling.
Our mission is to protect human health and the environment by ensuring responsible national management of hazardous and nonhazardous waste. Our goals are to:
- Conserve resources by reducing waste;
- Prevent future waste disposal problems by enforcing regulations; and
- Clean up areas where waste may have spilled, leaked, or been improperly disposed.
We work closely with individual states, industry, environmental groups, tribes, and the public to promote safe waste management. These shared responsibilities help us to:
- Assume leadership roles in environmental education; and
- Write flexible, health-based regulations that reflect ecological risks and environmental justice.