The Congress finds with respect to solid waste—
that the continuing technological progress and improvement in methods of manufacture, packaging, and marketing of consumer products has resulted in an ever-mounting increase, and in a change in the characteristics, of the mass material discarded by the purchaser of such products;
that the economic and population growth of our Nation, and the improvements in the standard of living enjoyed by our population, have required increased industrial production to meet our needs, and have made necessary the demolition of old buildings, the construction of new buildings, and the provision of highways and other avenues of transportation, which, together with related industrial, commercial, and agricultural operations, have resulted in a rising tide of scrap, discarded, and waste materials;
that the continuing concentration of our population in expanding metropolitan and other urban areas has presented these communities with serious financial, management, intergovernmental, and technical problems in the disposal of solid wastes resulting from the industrial, commercial, domestic, and other activities carried on in such areas;
that while the collection and disposal of solid wastes should continue to be primarily the function of State, regional, and local agencies, the problems of waste disposal as set forth above have become a matter national in scope and in concern and necessitate Federal action through financial and technical assistance and leadership in the development, demonstration, and application of new and improved methods and processes to reduce the amount of waste and unsalvageable materials and to provide for proper and economical solid waste disposal practices.
Environment and health
The Congress finds with respect to the environment and health, that—
although land is too valuable a national resource to be needlessly polluted by discarded materials, most solid waste is disposed of on land in open dumps and sanitary landfills;
disposal of solid waste and hazardous waste in or on the land without careful planning and management can present a danger to human health and the environment;
as a result of the Clean Air Act [42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.], the Water Pollution Control Act [33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.], and other Federal and State laws respecting public health and the environment, greater amounts of solid waste (in the form of sludge and other pollution treatment residues) have been created. Similarly, inadequate and environmentally unsound practices for the disposal or use of solid waste have created greater amounts of air and water pollution and other problems for the environment and for health;
open dumping is particularly harmful to health, contaminates drinking water from underground and surface supplies, and pollutes the air and the land;
the placement of inadequate controls on hazardous waste management will result in substantial risks to human health and the environment;
if hazardous waste management is improperly performed in the first instance, corrective action is likely to be expensive, complex, and time consuming;
certain classes of land disposal facilities are not capable of assuring long-term containment of certain hazardous wastes, and to avoid substantial risk to human health and the environment, reliance on land disposal should be minimized or eliminated, and land disposal, particularly landfill and surface impoundment, should be the least favored method for managing hazardous wastes; and
alternatives to existing methods of land disposal must be developed since many of the cities in the United States will be running out of suitable solid waste disposal sites within five years unless immediate action is taken.
The Congress finds with respect to materials, that—
millions of tons of recoverable material which could be used are needlessly buried each year;
methods are available to separate usable materials from solid waste; and
the recovery and conservation of such materials can reduce the dependence of the United States on foreign resources and reduce the deficit in its balance of payments.
The Congress finds with respect to energy, that—
solid waste represents a potential source of solid fuel, oil, or gas that can be converted into energy;
the need exists to develop alternative energy sources for public and private consumption in order to reduce our dependence on such sources as petroleum products, natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric generation; and
technology exists to produce usable energy from solid waste.
(Pub. L. 89–272, title II, § 1002, as added Pub. L. 94–580, § 2, Oct. 21, 1976, 90 Stat. 2796; amended Pub. L. 95–609, § 7(a), Nov. 8, 1978, 92 Stat. 3081; Pub. L. 98–616, title I, § 101(a), Nov. 8, 1984, 98 Stat. 3224.)