Subject: Environmental Studies
Language: English (U.S.)
Pages: 1
Question 1 Distinguish hazardous waste from the other types of wastes listed on pages 5-6, section 1.2, of your textbook. Provide an example of a hazardous waste and describe its characteristics. Question 2 Distinguish between the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) with respect to the types of activities they regulate and the potential consequences if they were not enacted.

Waste Management Practices

Question 1:

Hazardous waste is the type of waste generated by individuals and firms that poses a potential threat to the health of the public and to the welfare of the environment. On the other hand, municipal solid waste is generated from the communal activities as opposed to waste generated by a single household or individual. This type of waste is generated from municipal, industrial, residential, commercial, and institutional activities within the community (Pichtel, 2014).

Industrial waste refers to the waste generated from an industrial activity. The waste includes any materials that have become useless after undergoing a manufacturing process. The waste is generated from the activities undertaken in mills, mining, industries, and factories.

Medical waste is any waste material generated in health care facilities as well as medical research facilities and laboratories. Universal waste comes from the use of consumer products that contain mercury, cadmium, and lead. These materials cannot be disposed of in a household’s trash or in a landfill as they pose a danger to the environment and public health. 

Construction and demolition waste consists of the debris generated from the construction, demolition, and renovation of buildings, bridges, and roads. The waste materials generated are usually heavy and bulky. Radioactive waste consists of materials that have radioactive elements. This type of waste is usually generated during nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear technology such as research in nuclear power generation. 

Question 2:

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 is a law that handles the cleaning up of sites that have been contaminated with hazardous materials. The law authorizes federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Native American tribes, and the states to recover land that has been damaged by hazardous substances. The EPA identifies parties that have released dangerous/hazardous materials to the environment and compels them to clean up the sites. If the EPA cannot locate the responsible parties, the agency cleans the site up using money from the Superfund. The EPA will recover the cost of cleaning up the orphan site from financially viable individuals after the cleanup has been completed. 

The management of hazardous waste is handled and regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The Act was enacted in 1976 and is the principle federal law that covers the disposal and management of solid and hazardous wastes. The Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to manage the generation, movement, treatment, storage, and disposal of materials of a hazardous nature. The Act also enabled the creation of a framework for the handling of non-hazardous solid waste. Amendments to the Act enabled the EPA to assess and manage the environmental problems that could be caused by the storage of petroleum and other hazardous material in underground tanks. 


Pichtel, J. (2014). Waste management practices: Municipal, hazardous, and industrial (2nd Ed). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.