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Waste Not, Want Not: Economic and Legal Challenges of Regulation-Induced Changes in Waste Technology and Management


  • Macauley, Molly K.

    () (Resources for the Future)


Beginning in the early 1990s, stricter government regulation to protect public health and the environment led to radical changes in waste technology and management in the United States. More stringent regulation induced wholly new technologies, including the lining of landfills, the control of their gas emissions, and changes in the economic scale and geographic location of operation. Economic integration of waste management transformed “the local dump” into a nationwide and modernized industry. These changes led to unprecedented intervention by local government in attempts to control price, quantity, and location-specific attributes of the $40 billion waste market. Regulatory-induced changes in markets have long been a topic of academic and policy interest, but unique in this case was the emergence of legal challenges—-under the dormant commerce clause—-concerning public governance and the private sector. This paper reviews the regulation-induced changes in the market, its subnational governmental interventions, and protection of interstate commerce when new technology restructures a local service into a national business.

Suggested Citation

  • Macauley, Molly K., 2009. "Waste Not, Want Not: Economic and Legal Challenges of Regulation-Induced Changes in Waste Technology and Management," Discussion Papers dp-09-11, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-09-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Suzi Kerr & Richard G. Newell, 2003. "Policy-Induced Technology Adoption: Evidence from the U.S. Lead Phasedown," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 317-343, September.
    2. Jong Seok Lim & Paul Missios, 2007. "Does size really matter? Landfill scale impacts on property values," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(10), pages 719-723.
    3. V. Kerry Smith, 1974. "The Implications of Regulation for Induced Technical Change," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 5(2), pages 623-632, Autumn.
    4. Ley, Eduardo & Macauley, Molly K. & Salant, Stephen W., 2002. "Spatially and Intertemporally Efficient Waste Management: The Costs of Interstate Trade Restrictions," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 188-218, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Vincent Aloysius & Dadan Umar Daihani, 2011. "Closing The Waste Gap In Indonesia: Harnessing Industrial Waste To Prevent Pollution And Conserve Non-Renewable Resources," Working Papers 2011/29, Maastricht School of Management.

    More about this item


    municipal solid waste; economics; Supreme Court; technological change; regulation; interstate commerce;

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy

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