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The Truth about Recycling. ECNS 594 Current Issues in Economics. Holly Fretwell M ontana S tate U niversity, adjunct instructor PERC , research fellow. Museum of the Rockies, Harry H.janke board room June 20, 2013 (6:30-8pm ). Why Recycle?. Moral imperative or

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the truth about recycling

The Truth about Recycling

ECNS 594

Current Issues in Economics

Holly Fretwell

Montana State University,

adjunct instructor

PERC, research fellow

Museum of the Rockies, Harry H.janke board room

June 20, 2013 (6:30-8pm)

why recycle
Why Recycle?
  • Moral imperative or
  • resource conservation?

Available at: PERC.org

Holly L. Fretwell

Note: Data collection by Dan Benjamin, reused with permission. Reference to PERC PS No 47, 2010. Any errors or omissions are my own.

garbage rubbish trash a by product of production and consumption
Garbage (rubbish/trash): A by-product of production and consumption
  • Dump it (landfill)
  • Burn it (incinerate)
  • Recycle it (re-use, remanufacture)
resource or rubbish
Resource or Rubbish?

Rubbish (waste): an undesirable by-product of production or consumption.

Resource: an item that provides value for use – where the

costs of reuse < value added by reuse

slide8
Resource or Rubbish?

+

Yes

(recycle)

Resource

-

if cost > value

High

Transportation

Cost

Rubbish

+

Yes

(reuse)

Resource

-

if opportunity

cost > value

High

Labor Cost

If dirty

Rubbish

-

No

(hazardous

waste)

Rubbish

slide9
Fact or Fiction?
  • Are we running out of landfill space?
  • Is our trash poisoning us?
  • Does packaging waste resources?
  • Must firms be mandated to decrease packaging?
  • Are we are running out of resources?
  • Does recycling save resources? (e.g. recycling paper saves trees)
  • Is recycling beneficial for the environment?
  • Do recycling mandates enhance efficiency of resource use? (e.g., is curbside recycling pick up a low cost method to recycle?)
recycling myths
Recycling Myths
  • Our trash will bury us.
    • Are we running out of landfill space?
recycling myths1
Recycling Myths
  • Our trash will bury us.
  • Our trash will poison us.
  • Cancer Risk from 70 year land fill exposure1 in 10billion (~1 every 50 years)
  • Cancer Risk of 1 in 1 million for:
      • smoking 1.4 cig/yr
      • travel 300 mi by car/10 by bike
      • live 2 days in Boston
slide14
Recycling Myths
  • Our trash will bury us.
  • Our trash will poison us.
  • Packaging wastes resources.
  • 4. Should Firms be mandated to decrease packaging?
recycling myths2
Recycling Myths
  • Our trash will bury us.
  • Our trash will poison us
  • Packaging wastes resources
  • Firms must be mandated to decrease packaging
  • We’re running out of resources
slide17
It’s not the input (metal, oil, gas. . . )

that we want,

rather what it does for us!

resource or rubbish1
Resource or Rubbish?

http://www.benefits-of-recycling.com/aluminumrecyclingprices.html

Aluminum Recycling Prices / The Stats

One of the most common statistics stated about aluminum recycling is that Americans throw away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild the entire national commercial air fleet.

Imagine that amount of wasted resource!This makes it obvious and imperative that recycling saves natural resources. . .

This statement is:

True.

False.

Just because you can make something else with the material does not mean it saves resources to re-use it.

It is only a resource if the benefit of re-use is equal to or outweighs the cost at the margin.

recycling myths3
Recycling Myths
  • Our trash will bury us.
  • Our trash will poison us
  • Packaging wastes resources
  • We’re running out of resources
  • Recycling saves resources and protects the environment

Does recycling paper saves trees?

recycling myths4
Recycling Myths
  • Our trash will bury us.
  • Our trash will poison us
  • Packaging wastes resources
  • We’re running out of resources
  • Recycling saves resources and protects the environment
  • Do recycling mandates enhance efficiency of resource use? (e.g., is curbside recycling pick up a low cost method to recycle?)
when does recycling make sense
When does recycling make sense?
  • Commercial level
  • When uses less energy & raw materials than primary manufacturing
    • Firms will realize the cost saving
  • Where MSB ≥ MSC
rubbish or resource
Rubbish or Resource?

Rubbish (waste): an undesirable by-product of production or consumption.

Resource: an item that provides value for use – where the

costs of reuse < value added by reuse.

economically speaking:

where MSC ≤ MSB

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