, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 37-52

Landfilling Versus ``Backstop'' Recycling When Income Is Growing

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Abstract

The paper considers a dynamic model in which an income stream,growing over time, is optimally divided into consumption andexpenditures on waste disposal, the latter being optimally dividedbetween ``recycling''and ``landfilling.'' Recycling is thoughtof as a ``backstop'' waste disposal technology – it does notrequire landfill space but is a relatively expensive method ofwaste disposal. Landfilling uses up scarce landfill capacity. While conserving landfill space is the major reason themunicipality recycles, another motive for recycling might be thatrecycling itself generates utility. Our analysis suggests thatthe optimal recycling program varies considerably with bothlandfill capacity and initial income. For example, richermunicipalities are likely to introduce recycling much earlier inthe planning period than poorer municipalities. Thus whenlegislating recycling, national or regional governments must besensitive to the differences between municipalities.