, Volume 38, Issue 2-3, pp 91-106

Free riding in voluntary environmental programs: The case of the U.S. EPA WasteWise program

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Abstract

Voluntary Environmental Programs (VPs) involving industry and regulatory agencies have emerged as the promise of the future in environmental policy circles. Although the number of these agreements is increasing in OECD countries, there are still concerns about their effectiveness; in particular that “free-riding” behavior may be difficult to avoid within VPs. Free riding occurs when one firm benefits from the actions of another without sharing the costs. Free-riding behavior may undermine the credibility of VPs and therefore their viability. Our paper focuses on understanding the factors that favor or hamper free-riding behavior in VPs. Our analysis is based on the case of the WasteWise program that was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce municipal solid waste.