Georgia passed the Solid Waste Management Act in 1972, the same year that Environmental Protection Division (EPD) was formed as part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). EPD began regulating landfills through DNR's Rules for Solid Waste Management (Chapter 391-3-4). Prior to the Act, landfills were handled by the local county health departments. After passage of the Act, the EPD initiated the task of either permitting or closing some 600 open burning dumps in Georgia during the period from 1974-1990.

EPD categorized landfills as: Dry Trash Landfills (non-putrescible waste), Sanitary Landfills (putrescible waste), or Industrial Waste Landfills. "Putrescible Wastes" means wastes that are capable of being quickly decomposed by microorganisms. Examples of putrescible wastes include but are not necessarily limited to kitchen wastes, animal manure, offal, hatchery and poultry processing plant wastes, dead animals, garbage and wastes which are contaminated by such wastes. From 1974, when the first landfill was permitted, until 1989, landfills were regulated under the initial Act. During that time EPD associates inspected and compiled a set of maps of landfill locations throughout the state. In 1989 the Rules for Solid Waste Management were revised, and in 1990 the state Legislature passed the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act (OCGA 12-8-20).