The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, also known as RCRA (pronounced "rick-rah") was passed by Congress in 1976. This Act set up a hazardous waste "cradle-to-grave" system. It gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to track hazardous waste from the time it’s created, until it’s recycled, treated or disposed.

The Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendment, also known as HSWA, was added to RCRA in 1984 to address limitations in the original Act. This amendment required the phasing out of hazardous waste land disposal. It outlined tougher hazardous waste management standards and increased EPA’s enforcement authority. The amendment also included details for corrective action (clean up) of all hazardous waste pollution at hazardous waste facilities as well as a complete underground storage tank program. RCRA focuses only on active and future facilities. It does not generally address abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (see Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as CERCLA).

EPA has delegated authority to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to enforce most of the RCRA requirements in Missouri. The Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Law and the Petroleum Storage Tank Law combine those RCRA requirements with other requirements that Missouri has added. These laws address the issues of hazardous waste management, clean up of hazardous waste and hazardous substance releases, management and removal of petroleum storage tanks, and clean up of leaking petroleum storage tanks. Information on hazardous waste facilities and cleanup activities that fall under RCRA are listed in EPA’s RCRAinfo database.