Wasted waste: An evolutionary perspective on industrial by-products
Every production process gives rise to unintended outputs. We argue that whether an output is desired or undesired, is not given per se, but depends on the economic circumstances which change over time. As a result, by-products of one industry, first perceived as non-marketable wastes, may become desired inputs into other production processes. By adopting an evolutionary perspective on economic dynamics, in particular by exploiting the concept of niche exclusion, we identify favorable circumstances for undesired outputs to become marketable. To cope with the pace and unpredictability of economic evolution, we argue for a flexible policy system which favors outcome- over process-oriented waste management policies and balances the responsibility between consumers and producers on the one side, and the society as a whole on the other side.
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