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Do this. The folks out in Bozeman are terrific. The scenery is not half bad either. Same for the beer.

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2 Responses to “The “Environment” Needs More Entrepreneurs”

  1. Alex says:

    I was disappointed with their blog posts and a paper on recycling (paper is here http://perc.org/sites/default/files/ps47.pdf). For example, they write, “…curbside recycling typically wastes resources…indeed, a moment’s reflection will suggest why this finding must be true. In the ordinary course of everyday living…the only things that intentionally end up [as trash] are both low in value and costly to reuse or recycle. Yet these are the items that municipal recycling programs are targeting, the very things that people have already decided are too worthless or too costly to deal with further.”

    Just because individuals have decided these things are too costly to “deal with” doesn’t mean they are always and for everyone. When we squeeze our own orange juice, we throw away the peels. But you once mentioned that OJ companies reuse/compost them. If curbside recycling TYPICALLY wastes resources, that implies it sometimes does not. I would think it would depend at least on the particular program, resource, and location. How can we as laypeople tell the good from the bad? I think that’s who needs to be targeted to make a change…who else is going to listen? The government?

    • wintercow20 says:

      I’ve read Dan’s study. The difficulty is that data is hard to come by, as my 238 students have so painfully learned. But as I read it under a conservative range of raw materials prices, fuel prices, tipping fee estimates and wage estimates it appears to be the case that simply on the “profit-loss” metric curbside recycling is insignificant.

      A nice tool would be one of those infographics that shows what areas of the country (e.g. transport and disposal costs) and what pricing regimes the stuff seems to make sense. The problem of course is that we don’t see entry and exit into recycling as the prices for materials changes, so we really don’t have market signals telling us when it makes sense.

      But I hate this issue more than most – because recycling is a buzz-word for most anything folks want it to be. Dan is talking in his paper if it wins a cost-benefit calculation like a normal business. Then we can ask whether it deals effectively with any social cost problem, but of course there are many of those, and the target seems to move any time we try to focus on one or two. Then we can ask whether there are other good and bad consequences of the program (e.g. less litter?), and so on. And finally of course the term recycling itself turns most discussions of it into a debate about the existence of god …

      How do laypeople tell good from bad on most things?

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