Suppose you were really, really, really, really freaked out that "we" were going to run out of some really important material like clay for cat litter. Well, important for some people. Suppose that you convened a panel of concerned citizens and you had but one opportunity to select the best way to ensure the continued ability of your kitty cats to find a place to go to the bathroom. In what process would you have more faith?
Would you prefer to rely on the price system and the ability for some entrepreneur to make a killing to drive innovation in the litter market and to develop substitutes and alternatives to the use of clay kitty litter? How long would it take for these to develop? Would they become cost effective? Or would you prefer to rely on persuading kitty cat owners to begin to aggressively recycling their used clay litter? Maybe they should empty the clay out each day and have it dry in the sun; apply some chemical treatment to it; vacuum it all back up and repeat the process each day. And when that proved too much for people to deal with, would you prefer we mandate that all kitty cat owners recycle their clay? Would you like to see the kitty cat litter police prowling in all of the disposal bins of kitty cat owners to make sure that no clay litter enters the waste stream? Suppose even that people did like this idea. How important a contributor to conserving the valuable clay resource do you think recycling would be as compared to the aforementioned alternative?
There is of course a simple empirical study I am referring to in the above. Even if we have a very successful recycling program, how important a contributor do you think it is to the conservation of resources as compared to the market driven processes we are familiar with?