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Garbage, Recycling, and Illicit Burning or Dumping

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  • Don Fullerton
  • Thomas C. Kinnaman

Abstract

Additional solid waste disposal imposes resource and environmental costs, but most residents still pay no additional fee per marginal unit of garbage collection. In a simple model with garbage and recycling as the only two disposal options, we show that the optimizing fee for garbage collection equals the resource cost plus environmental cost. When illicit burning or dumping is a third disposal option, however, the optimizing fee for garbage collection can change sign. Burning or dumping is not a market activity and cannot be taxed directly, but it can be discouraged indirectly by a system with a tax on all output plus a rebate on proper disposal either through recycling or garbage collection. This optimizing fee structure is essentially a deposit-refund system. The output tax helps achieve the first-best allocation even though it may affect the choice between consumption and untaxed leisure, because consumption leads to disposal problems while leisure does not.

Suggested Citation

  • Don Fullerton & Thomas C. Kinnaman, 1993. "Garbage, Recycling, and Illicit Burning or Dumping," NBER Working Papers 4374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4374
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods

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