About RCRA

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, which amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act, addresses solid (Subtitle D) and hazardous (Subtitle C) waste management activities. The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) of 1984 strengthened RCRA’s waste management provisions and added Subtitle I, which governs underground storage tanks (USTs).

Regulations promulgated pursuant to Subtitle C of RCRA (40 CFR Parts 260-299) establish a “cradle-to-grave” system governing hazardous waste from the point of generation to disposal. RCRA hazardous wastes include the specific materials listed in the regulations (commercial chemical products, designated with the code “P” or “U”; hazardous wastes from specific industries/sources, designated with the code “K”; hazardous wastes from nonspecific sources, designated with the code “F”) and materials which exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic (ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity) designated with the code “D”.

Regulated entities that generate hazardous waste are subject to waste accumulation, manifesting, and recordkeeping standards. Facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste must obtain a permit, either from EPA or from a state agency that EPA has authorized to implement the permitting program. Subtitle C permits contain general facility standards such as contingency plans, emergency procedures, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, financial assurance mechanisms, and unit-specific standards. RCRA also contains provisions (40 CFR Part 264 Subpart S and Part 264.10) for conducting corrective actions that govern the cleanup of releases of hazardous waste or constituents from solid waste management units at RCRA-regulated facilities.

Although RCRA is a federal statute, many states implement the RCRA program. Currently, EPA has delegated its authority to implement various provisions of RCRA to 46 of the 50 states.

Most RCRA requirements are not industry-specific but apply to any company that generates, transports, treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous waste. Here are some important RCRA regulatory requirements:


The objectives of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) are to protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, to conserve energy and natural resources, to reduce the amount of waste generated, and to ensure that wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.  RCRA regulates the management of solid waste (e.g., garbage), hazardous waste, and underground storage tanks holding petroleum products or certain chemicals.

Summary of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Agriculture-Specific Requirements

More Information

Related Topics


Related publications from the Ag Center


Text of law and related regulation

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

40 CFR Parts 239 – 282 (Parts 239-259; Parts 260-265; Parts 266-282)

More information from EPA 

RCRA Online Database

RCRA Orientation Manual Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Wastes – Resource Conservation

Office of Underground Storage Tanks

Catalog of Hazardous and Solid Waste Publications (PDF) (420pp, 4.3MB)

More information from states

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) – Representatives of the state departments of agriculture in the development, implementation, and communication of sound public policy and programs which support and promote the American agricultural industry, while protecting consumers and the environment.

EZregs – University of Illinois Extension Web site that identifies environmental regulations that pertain to specific agricultural and horticultural operations and practices in Illinois.

RCRA compliance and enforcement

RCRA: Agriculture-Related Enforcement Cases

RCRA Enforcement Policy and Guidance

RCRA Enforcement

RCRA Statute, Regulations & Enforcement Underground Storage Tanks Publications

Protocol for Conducting Environmental Compliance Audits of Storage Tanks under RCRA (PDF) (162 pp, 11.7MB)

Protocol for Conducting Environmental Compliance Audits of Facilities Regulated under Subtitle D of RCRA (PDF) (153 pp, 755K)

Protocol for Conducting Environmental Compliance Audits for Hazardous Waste Generators under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (PDF) (178 pp, 1.8MB)

Protocol for Conducting Environmental Compliance Audits of Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (12/98) (PDF) (246 pp, 2.5MB)