Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965

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Solid Waste Disposal Act
Great Seal of the United States
Legislative history
Major amendments
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA), is an Act of Congress passed in 1965.[1] The United States Environmental Protection Agency described the Act as "the first federal effort to improve waste disposal technology".[2] After the industrial revolution, the change in quality of living caused an increase in solid waste generation.[3] In the 1970s, Congress decided that SWDA was not enough to properly manage the nation's waste and passed The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which amended and superseded SWDA.[3] Other amendments to SWDA include RCRA Subpart S for remedial investigation and The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendment (HSWA).[3]


After the industrial revolution lead to increases in municipal waste, local and regional governments and private individuals developed many diverse, and frequently unsafe or unsanitary, disposal technologies for disposal of this waste.[4] The most frequent disposal method used was open dumps and burning of trash.[5] As the Germ Theory of Disease developed in the late 19th and early 20th century, this led to increased attention of waste disposal as a public health crisis in the United States.[6] Due to increasing demand for better waste management during the 1960s, the United States passed SWDA in 1965.[7]

Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA)[edit]

As the first Environmental Law,[7] SWDA's main goal is to reduce waste and protect human and environmental health[7] by decreasing pollution and promoting better municipal waste disposal technology.[5] It dictates disposal of copious amounts of both municipal and industrial waste.[7] It also defines solid waste as a local responsibility, promotes advancement of waste management technology, and declares waste management standards.[7]

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)[edit]

The Resource Recovery Act (RRA), passed in 1970, was the first amendment to the SWDA.[3] This amendment called for increased government involvement in waste management, incited reduction of waste as well as recycling technology, and introduced criteria for disposal of hazardous waste.[7]


The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act(RCRA) was created as the first amendment to SWDA, after congress realized that the SWDA was not comprehensive enough.[7] RCRA identifies the increasing amount of both hazardous and non-hazardous being produced at the time, and declares that in order to maintain the quality of life expected in the United States, new waste management practices need to be established. It also bans open dumps and discusses the implications of hazardous waste, recycling, and renewable energy.[8] RCRA then goes on to dictate that assistance must be provided to communities for waste management and declare that Hazardous Waste must be properly managed, and incite a need for research into better management practices.[8] RCRA also altered the responsible party from an "end of the pipe," meaning the waste disposal or water remediation facility, to a "cradle to grave," meaning the party who created the waste.[7]

Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA)[edit]

The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA), passed in 1984 as an amendment to SWDA, added more stringent laws about hazardous waste management.[7] This included limiting disposal centers for hazardous waste, increasing EPA involvement, increasing waste management standards, and determining underground storage standards.[7]

Federal Facilities Compliance Act (FFCA)[edit]

The final amendment to SWDA, the Federal Facilities Compliance Act (FFCA), was passed in 1992 and holds federal facilities responsible for all fines and penalties stated in SWDA and its amendments.[9] This amendment was in response to the Supreme Court ruling in DOE vs. Ohio [9] where the Supreme court ruled that the Department of Energy held sovereign immunity and therefore could not be sued for their management of a uranium processing facility.[10]

Whistleblower Protection[edit]

SWDA explicitly states that a person cannot be retaliated against because they acted as an informant to the EPA.[11] The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines retaliation as: loss of employment, blacklisting, demotion, denying overtime, benefits, or promotion, discipline, failure to hire or rehire, intimidation, threatening, reassignment which affects promotion prospects, reduction of pay or shifts.[12] The whistleblower clause excludes employees who violate the law without being directed to do so by the company.[11]


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for enforcing environmental laws in the United States.[7] This includes the SWDA and all of its amendments.


  1. ^ "EPA - Solid Waste Management on Tribal Lands - The Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) of 1965". United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d EPA. 2001. PDF. 4 December 2015. <>. —. Solid Waste Managenment on Tribal Lands. 14 October 2015. 4 December 2015. —. Superfund. 30 September 2015. 4 December 2015.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of Waste Regulation in the United States and Oklahoma". Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  4. ^ a b University of Minnesota. Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965. n.d. 4 December 2015.
  5. ^ Rushton, Lesley (2003-12-01). "Health hazards and waste management". British Medical Bulletin. 68 (1): 183–197. doi:10.1093/bmb/ldg034. ISSN 0007-1420. PMID 14757717.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k EPA. 2001. PDF. 4 December 2015. <>. —. Solid Waste Management on Tribal Lands. 14 October 2015. 4 December 2015. —. Superfund. 30 September 2015. 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ a b Robinson, Eugene H. Jr. Solid Waste Disposal Act (1965). 2004. 4 December 2015.
  8. ^ US Department of Justice. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY V. OHIO. 4 May 2015. 4 December 2015.
  9. ^ a b US Department of Labor. Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA). n.d. 4 December 2015.
  10. ^ OSHA. "Filing Whistleblower Complaints Under the Solid Waste Disposal Act." June 2015. PDF. 4 December 2015.