Alabama Solid Waste Management and Recycling

It should come as no surprise that the handling of solid waste is a serious business. The Environmental Protection Agency was mandated by Congress to develop the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a public law that creates the framework for the proper handling of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste throughout the country.

The RCRA protects communities and encourages resource conservation. “To achieve this, EPA develops regulations, guidance and policies that ensure the safe management and cleanup of solid and hazardous waste, and programs that encourage source reduction and beneficial reuse” (

In Alabama, on a statewide level, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is charged with protecting and enhancing public health and well-being though the the development and implementation of statewide programs for the the prevention of air pollution, scrap tire disposal, water quality, hazardous waste, brownfield redevelopment, medical waste, and establishing “criteria for the disposal of solid waste and the design, location, operation, closure and post-closure of landfill units” (

“The Solid Waste Program is administered within Land Division by the WPB for solid waste landfill permitting, compliance inspections and enforcement and corrective action. WPB also inspects illegal solid waste disposal sites and investigates complaints regarding solid waste disposal. Enforcement action is taken as necessary to assure proper disposal of all solid waste in Alabama.”

According to the ADEM website, Alabama is an “authorized” state, meaning that it is authorized by the EPA to administer state environmental law in lieu of most federal environmental laws. Companies now offer industrial- and commercial-sized recycling dumpsters to reduce the amount harmful solid waste entering landfills.

Solid waste is defined by the EPA as garbage, municipal waste (newspapers, coffee grounds, milk cartons, and food waste) refuse (scrap metal, empty containers), sludges from water treatment plants or pollution control facilities, industrial wastes, and other discarded materials. Obviously, municipal and commercial recycling education and concerted recycling efforts can dramatically decrease the production of solid waste in increase recycling.

The EPA reports that in 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and we composted or recycled about 87 tons of the total trash generated, achieving a 34.3% recycling rate. According to a 2008 report issued by the ADEM, however, Alabama’s 2016 rate was projected to hold steady at 8.28%. In 2012, the state released a new study, the “Economic Impact of Recycling in Alabama and Opportunities for Growth,” that determined that the net value loss realized though the disposal of recyclable materials in Alabama landfills was significant. “…An increase of 10% in the state’s recycling rate could provide an additional $3,000,000 in state tax revenue, $66,000,000 in personal income and 1400 new jobs, the over $218,000,000 that could be realized through recycling of materials currently disposed as MSW provides real economic possibilities for Alabama.”

In an effort to minimize waste flowing into landfills throughout the state and increase revenue, recycling is a key strategy in the Alabama’s waste reduction efforts. To increase recycling numbers and to reduce the flow of recyclable waste into landfills, responsible and environmentally-conscious sanitation waste management companies are well-versed with both federal and state recommendations and offer convenient, safe, and compliant recycling options for businesses, industries, and government agencies.

To learn more about recycling and to reduce solid waste disposal in Alabama, contact PBS Services, Inc.


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