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The brown side of the green economy: urban garbage and the zero-waste utopia


  • Antonio Massarutto


This article illustrates the result of a study based on the life-cycle costing technique applied to urban waste management in a typical Italian setting, in order to discuss the economic and ecological foundations of a management paradigm inspired by the "zero-waste" philosophy. We identify landfill availability as a critical natural capital requiring the adoption of strong sustainability indicators. We argue that the zero-waste approach is neither feasible nor desirable. Instead, strong arguments can be found in favour of a "zero-landfill" strategy, to be achieved through an adequate mix of material and energy recovery.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Massarutto, 2012. "The brown side of the green economy: urban garbage and the zero-waste utopia," ECONOMICS AND POLICY OF ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2012(3), pages 81-110.
  • Handle: RePEc:fan:efeefe:v:html10.3280/efe2012-003007

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Barbara ANTONIOLI & Antonio MASSARUTTO, 2012. "The Municipal Waste Management Sector In Europe: Shifting Boundaries Between Public Service And The Market," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 83(4), pages 505-532, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies


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