Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Some reading on the economics of recycling

Here is a good read from US EPA regarding the economics of recycling in the southeast US.

Here is an excellent article from The Economist (a little long and a little dated, but well worth the read).

Here is an interesting article from CBS News that shows how much recycling depends on oil prices and the prices of recycled raw material.  

Here is a cool article from Slate that provides useful history and perspective on trash and recycling.

11 comments:

Mary Densmore said...

I've always thought of recycling as something that's only good for the environment-not the economy. After reading the first article, I realized how big of an impact recycling can actually have on the economy. As stated in the article, South Carolina's recycling industry produced over 37,000 jobs along with almost 70 million in tax revenue. In this case, recycling's market and non-market values are extremely beneficial to South Carolina. This class is really opening my eyes to the benefits many environmental-friendly activities (like recycling and conservation efforts) have.

http://www.eesi.org/briefings/view/042214recycling

^That article also has some good facts about recycling and its economic benefits

(I also didn't realize how much stuff Americans throw away that could be recycled. How come this isn't more regulated if it benefits the economy as well? Is it because it would be too difficult to implement laws or regulations for recycling?)

Mary Densmore said...

To add on to what I said above, the PAYT programs seem very effective, but I think they should be required in more places around the United States.

Morgan Hoy said...

I knew that trash was big business, but I had no idea that the "meg-landfills" were worth so much money. On one hand it is good that we have less landfills so that there is not so much wide spread pollution around the country. But on the opposing front we have to transport the trash which ultimately leads to more pollution released into the environment. People are apt to throw things away because it is easier and more readily available, does recycling have the same advantages? Does recycling make as much money as these "mega-landfills"? Or maybe they make more...Last interesting thought, how much is the environment polluted through the efforts of recycling companies re-purposing items?

Thought this article was an interesting find depicting the predicament that the recycling business is facing.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2013/11/12/profits-become-elusive-in-recycling/

Olivia Setser said...

With all the stuff we throw away, and the things some of us recycle... you would think there would be a national program that was more publicly known. I think it's interesting how recycling is kind of a popular thing to do now and has gained momentum from the attractiveness of publicly putting your stuff in a blue bin instead of the trash bin. But, what about after we put the stuff into the bin... what next? The products usually are down cycled and down cycled and then put into the landfill. Recycling is only one part of the picture and sooner or later the US is going to have to start mitigating the issue where recycling isn't such a big step to a cleaner environment as we all thought. I think the mindset is that once things are put in the recycling bin, it disappears, but that's not the case and eventually that is going to have to be openly discussed with transparency because trash is still trash and landfills are still growing. Speaking of- I think the Wilmington landfill is close to capacity-- so then we'll have to start paying to transport our trash.

Tess Johnson said...

The idea of recycling has always been a concern of mine, and a battle with my parents. Trying to convince them that recycling is a better option than sending waste to landfills has been a ten year discussion. I loved reading the article about how recycling has impacted the southeast, and I love the idea of the pay as you throw program. Ultimately I think people need to be educated on the pros and cons of recycling and how it can help.

Ryan Lynch said...

"Like prisoners, trash shipments can be big business for states willing to accept them. Kentucky, for example, has room for 212 million tons of waste. At the going rate of $29 per ton, that's a $6 billion economic opportunity."

After reading all of the articles, for some reason this is what stuck out to me. I find this fascinating. What other examples of this exist?

Christina Leeds said...

Olivia brought up an interesting point, is the Wilmington landfill close to capacity? Why is this not commonly known? The Slate article brought some interesting points to the surface- the mega-landfills that are becoming more prevalent bring their problems with them. "Leachate" is mixed into sewage treatment plants, are the treatment plants equipped well enough to extract the harsh chemicals? Ryan mentioned the quote about trash shipments being equated to prisoners and how that equals “big business for states willing to accept them.” This is interesting how much money is produced from these industries.

Connor Mensing said...

I like Ryan's point, it would be interesting to see which states that are currently against landfills open their doors to the massive opportunity at the cost of aesthetics. Nobody wants to live near a landfill, but at some point, certain states may reach a point that they become desperate enough to ditch the no-trash policy and stop exporting all of their garbage.

McKenzie LeFlore said...

When the article from the Slate stated that people would rather ship their trash and pay for it to be shipped miles away, where it emits gases on the trip, rather than have landfills close to their homes... that really struck me. I think that line is a good synopsis of a lot of problems in America and it really boils down to the cost benefit analysis issue we talked about. There is always a benefit to throwing away trash so people are going to do it, whereas the costs of throwing away trash are nearly nothing to an individual home, the costs of throwing away trash are in the end, divided up among society. The pollutants trash disposal creates are dispersed among many people so one household does not see it as their problem...

Victoria Deluise said...

I agree with what Olivia is saying that there is a much larger, international scale to the recycling topic. That is definitley a macro-scale interpretation and it is important to look at. What happens to recylced materials after we recylce them? How is it that even when people make great efforts to recylce, plastic still ends up floating in the ocean? A lot of our trash and recyling is shipped overseas to be dealt with. We just kind of make our trash somebody else's problem. I think it is important for people to access information about recycling and trash so they can see the benefits vs. the costs. On the policy side, it may be effective for incentives to be put into place to further encourage recycling.

Jawad Dughmush said...

I believe that any conservative acts toward the environment are worth the effort, even if it is in the minimal amount. I just never understood how much of this environmental abuse exists. I believe more people are opening their eyes and educating themselves about this issue. People are changing. This is a good step.