Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on January 20, 2022
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on April 27, 2022
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2022
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports and encourages:
- Safe and environmentally sound reduction in the volume of hazardous waste produced in the United States through better utilization of natural resources, the development and implementation of alternative manufacturing procedures and processes, and recovery and reuse of hazardous wastes as resource materials.
- Development and implementation of legislation enabling and encouraging research and development programs and economic incentive programs aimed at identifying beneficial reuse programs and applications for hazardous waste, including establishing a process by which permission for research and development activities can be granted by the governing federal agency.
- Federal and state programs which foster cooperation in the exchange of information on the recovery and reuse of hazardous wastes as resource materials.
- Implementation of federal and state regulations and international treaties to ensure hazardous wastes are properly identified, categorized, packaged, and transported to authorized waste disposal sites adequately designed for containment and prevention of degradation to air, land, surface water and groundwater resources.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Biennial Hazardous Waste Report estimates that 35 million tons of hazardous waste was generated in the United States for the 2019 reporting period. Although the annual quantity of generated hazardous waste has been steady over the last 10 years, the volume of waste and the lack of adequate disposal methods and sites not only escalates disposal costs but poses an increasing threat to the environment and to public health, safety, and welfare. Many hazardous waste disposal sites have been found unsuitable for continued use due to degradation of surrounding surface waters, groundwaters and soils. For many industrial installations remedial cleanup will be required, imposing a large economic burden on the public. The difficulties and costs associated with arranging suitable disposal for many hazardous wastes have led to illegal dumping in waterways, on land, and into wastewater treatment works that serve the public.
Hazardous wastes encompass a wide spectrum of substances, production sources and disposal practices. For many substances, appropriate disposal technologies have not been developed.
In many industrial installations, alternative manufacturing procedures or processes can be installed to concentrate, reduce, or eliminate hazardous waste production at the source. In other cases, hazardous wastes generated from one industrial process can serve as a resource to other industrial processes. Where technology for hazardous waste reduction and reuse is not available, the development of these technologies needs to be encouraged. It is appropriate that regulations and economic incentive programs that consider impacts to the environment be developed and implemented to support the use of existing technology and creation of new technologies for hazardous waste reduction and reuse.
For those hazardous wastes that must be disposed of, it is essential that the wastes be properly handled and that disposal sites be selected and designed to adequately protect the environment and public health, and welfare.
ASCE Policy Statement 331
First Approved in 1987