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The socially optimal recycling rate: Evidence from Japan

Listed author(s):
  • Kinnaman, Thomas C.
  • Shinkuma, Takayoshi
  • Yamamoto, Masashi

This paper estimates the average social cost of municipal waste management as a function of the recycling rate. Social costs include all municipal costs and revenues, costs to recycling households to prepare materials estimated with an original method, external disposal costs, and external recycling benefits. Results suggest average social costs are minimized with recycling rates well below observed and mandated levels in Japan. Cost-minimizing municipalities are estimated to recycle less than the optimal rate. These results are robust to changes in the components of social costs, indicating that Japan and perhaps other developed countries may be setting inefficiently high recycling goals.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0095069614000230
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Volume (Year): 68 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 54-70

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:68:y:2014:i:1:p:54-70
DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2014.01.004
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622870

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  1. Thomas C. Kinnaman, 2006. "Policy Watch: Examining the Justification for Residential Recycling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 219-232, Fall.
  2. Martin L. Weitzman, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 477-491.
  3. Bente Halvorsen, 2008. "Effects of Norms and Opportunity Cost of Time on Household Recycling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 84(3), pages 501-516.
  4. Brandon C. Koford & Glenn C. Blomquist & David M. Hardesty & Kenneth R. Troske, 2012. "Estimating Consumer Willingness to Supply and Willingness to Pay for Curbside Recycling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 88(4), pages 745-763.
  5. Abbott, Andrew & Nandeibam, Shasikanta & O'Shea, Lucy, 2013. "Recycling: Social norms and warm-glow revisited," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 10-18.
  6. Wayne Carroll, 1995. "The Organization and Efficiency of Residential Recycling Services," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 215-225, Spring.
  7. Miranda, Marie Lynn & Hale, Brack, 1997. "Waste not, want not: the private and social costs of waste-to-energy production," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 587-600, May.
  8. Shinkuma, Takayoshi, 2007. "Reconsideration of an advance disposal fee policy for end-of-life durable goods," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 110-121, January.
  9. Dijkgraaf, Elbert & Vollebergh, Herman R.J., 2004. "Burn or bury? A social cost comparison of final waste disposal methods," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3-4), pages 233-247, October.
  10. Baumol, William J., 1977. "On recycling as a moot environmental issue," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 83-87, March.
  11. Scott J. Callan & Janet M. Thomas, 2001. "Economies of Scale and Scope: A Cost Analysis of Municipal Solid Waste Services," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 77(4), pages 548-560.
  12. Oecd, 2006. "Impacts of Unit-based Waste Collection Charges," OECD Papers, OECD Publishing, vol. 6(8), pages 1-157.
  13. Palmer, Karen & Walls, Margaret, 1997. "Optimal policies for solid waste disposal Taxes, subsidies, and standards," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 193-205, August.
  14. Acuff, Kaylee & Kaffine, Daniel T., 2013. "Greenhouse gas emissions, waste and recycling policy," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 74-86.
  15. Nicholas Z. Muller & Robert Mendelsohn, 2009. "Efficient Pollution Regulation: Getting the Prices Right," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1714-1739, December.
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