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Curbside recycling: Waste resource or waste of resources?

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  • David Aadland

    (University of Wyoming)

  • Arthur J. Caplan

    (Utah State University)

Abstract

In this paper, we address the often contentious debate over state and local recycling policy by carefully estimating the social net benefit of curbside recycling. Benefits are estimated using household survey data from over 4,000 households across 40 western U.S. cities. We calibrate household willingnesstopay for hypothetical bias using an innovative experimental design that contrasts stated and revealed preferences. Cost estimates are compiled from previous studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Institute for Local Self Reliance, and from indepth interviews with recycling coordinators in our sampled cities. Across our sample of cities, we find that the estimated mean social net benefit of curbside recycling is almost exactly zero. On a citybycity basis, however, our social netbenefit analysis often makes clear predictions about whether a curbside recycling program is an efficient use of resources. Surprisingly, several curbside recycling programs in our sample appear to be inefficient. © 2006 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 25 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 855-874

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:25:y:2006:i:4:p:855-874

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/34787/home

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  1. Caplan, Arthur J. & Grijalva, Therese C. & Jakus, Paul M., 2002. "Waste not or want not? A contingent ranking analysis of curbside waste disposal options," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2-3), pages 185-197, December.
  2. Kinnaman, Thomas C. & Fullerton, Don, 2000. "Garbage and Recycling with Endogenous Local Policy," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 419-442, November.
  3. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
  4. Flores, Nicholas E., 2002. "Non-paternalistic altruism and welfare economics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 293-305, February.
  5. Jones-Lee, M W, 1992. "Paternalistic Altruism and the Value of Statistical Life," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(410), pages 80-90, January.
  6. David Aadland & Arthur J. Caplan, 2003. "Cheap Talk Revisited: New Evidence from CVM," Others 0301001, EconWPA.
  7. John C. Whitehead, 2002. "Incentive Incompatibility and Starting-Point Bias in Iterative Valuation Questions," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(2), pages 285-297.
  8. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  9. David Aadland & Arthur J. Caplan, 2003. "Willingness to Pay for Curbside Recycling with Detection and Mitigation of Hypothetical Bias," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 85(2), pages 492-502.
  10. Trudy Ann Cameron & Michelle D. James, 1986. "Efficient Estimation Methods for "Closed-Ended" Contingent Valuation Surveys," UCLA Economics Working Papers 404, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Haab, Timothy C. & McConnell, Kenneth E., 1997. "Referendum Models and Negative Willingness to Pay: Alternative Solutions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 251-270, February.
  12. David Aadland & Arthur Caplan, 1999. "Household Valuation of Curbside Recycling," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(6), pages 781-799.
  13. Don Fullerton & Wenbo Wu, 1996. "Policies for Green Design," NBER Working Papers 5594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Laura O. Taylor & Ronald G. Cummings, 1999. "Unbiased Value Estimates for Environmental Goods: A Cheap Talk Design for the Contingent Valuation Method," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 649-665, June.
  15. W. Michael Hanemann, 1994. "Valuing the Environment through Contingent Valuation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 19-43, Fall.
  16. Li Chuan-Zhong & Mattsson Leif, 1995. "Discrete Choice under Preference Uncertainty: An Improved Structural Model for Contingent Valuation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 256-269, March.
  17. Adamowicz W. & Louviere J. & Williams M., 1994. "Combining Revealed and Stated Preference Methods for Valuing Environmental Amenities," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 271-292, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Dominique Ami & Frédéric Aprahamian & Olivier Chanel & Stephane Luchini, 2009. "A Test Of Cheap Talk In Different Hypothetical Contexts: The Case Of Air Pollution," Working Papers halshs-00382511, HAL.
  2. Wagner, Jeffrey, 2011. "Incentivizing sustainable waste management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 585-594, February.
  3. Bohara, Alok K. & Caplan, Arthur J. & Grijalva, Therese, 2007. "The effect of experience and quantity-based pricing on the valuation of a curbside recycling program," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 433-443, December.
  4. Gorm Kipperberg & Douglas Larson, 2012. "Heterogeneous Preferences for Community Recycling Programs," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 53(4), pages 577-604, December.

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