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Household Responses for Pricing Garbage by the Bag

  • Don Fullerton
  • Thomas C. Kinnaman

This paper estimates household reaction to the implementation of unit-pricing for the collection of residential garbage. We gather original data on weight and volume of weekly garbage and recycling of 75 households in Charlottesville, Virginia, both before and after the start of a program that requires an eighty-cent sticker on each bag of garbage. This data set is the first of its kind. We estimate household demands for the collection of garbage and recyclable material, the effect on density of household garbage, and the amount of illegal dumping by households. We also estimate the probability that a household chooses each method available to reduce its garbage. In response to the implementation of this unit-pricing program, we find that households (1) reduced the weight of their garbage by 14%, (2) reduced the volume of garbage by 37% and (3) increased the weight of their recyclable materials by 16%. We estimate that additional illegal -- or at least suspicious -- disposal accounts for 0.42 pounds per person per week, or 28% of the reduction in garbage observed at the curb.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4670.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4670.

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Date of creation: Mar 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Economic Review, vol.86, no.4, (September,1996), pp.971-984
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4670
Note: PE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Richardson, Robert A. & Havlicek, Joseph, Jr., 1974. "On Analysis Of Seasonal Household Waste Generation," Southern Journal of Agricultural Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 6(02), December.
  2. Don Fullerton & Thomas C. Kinnaman, 1993. "Garbage, Recycling, and Illicit Burning or Dumping," NBER Working Papers 4374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richardson, Robert A. & Havlicek, Joseph Jr., 1978. "Economic analysis of the composition of household solid wastes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 103-111, March.
  4. James D. Reschovsky & Sarah E. Stone, 1994. "Market incentives to encourage household waste recycling: Paying for what you throw away," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 120-139.
  5. Hong Seonghoon & Adams Richard M. & Love H. Alan, 1993. "An Economic Analysis of Household Recycling of Solid Wastes: The Case of Portland, Oregon," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 136-146, September.
  6. 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.
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