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The Cost of Reducing Municipal Solid Waste

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  • Palmer, Karen

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Walls, Margaret

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Sigman, Hilary

Abstract

This paper explores public policies for reduction of municipal solid waste. We parameterize a simple model of waste disposal using supply and demand elasticities from the economics literature and 1990 prices and quantities of recyclable and recycled materials. Using this model, we calculate the waste reduction in response to three public policies: (i) deposit/ refunds, (ii) advance disposal fees, and (iii) recycling subsidies. The results illustrate the effects of the three policies on source reduction and recycling of five recyclable materials that comprise 56 percent of municipal solid waste: aluminum, glass, paper, plastic, and steel. The calculated responses provide information about the cost of reducing municipal solid waste through various policies. This analysis suggests that a 7.5 percent reduction in disposal of the solid wastes in the model might have been optimal in 1990 from a benefit-cost perspective.

Suggested Citation

  • Palmer, Karen & Walls, Margaret & Sigman, Hilary, 1996. "The Cost of Reducing Municipal Solid Waste," Discussion Papers dp-96-35, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-96-35
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    1. Fullerton Don & Kinnaman Thomas C., 1995. "Garbage, Recycling, and Illicit Burning or Dumping," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 78-91, July.
    2. Fullerton, Don & Kinnaman, Thomas C, 1996. "Household Responses to Pricing Garbage by the Bag," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 971-984, September.
    3. G. Strathman & Anthony M. Rufolo & Gerard C. S. Mildner, 1995. "The Demand for Solid Waste Disposal," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 71(1), pages 57-64.
    4. Valerie Y. Suslow, 1986. "Estimating Monopoly Behavior with Competitive Recycling: An Application to Alcoa," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 389-403, Autumn.
    5. Bingham, Tayler H. & Youngblood, Curtis E. & Cooley, Philip C., 1983. "Conditionally predictive supply elasticity estimates: Secondary materials obtained from municipal residuals," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 166-179, June.
    6. Hilary A. Sigman, 1995. "A Comparison of Public Policies for Lead Recycling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 26(3), pages 452-478, Autumn.
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