An economic theory of reuse

Abstract

An economic model of reuse is developed to analyse the effect of reuse activity on the amount of waste in the economy and the welfare of consumers. The paper adapts the theory of durable goods and second-hand markets. There is only one type of good, a durable good, which last two periods. A durable good is called ‘new’ in the first period and ‘used’ in the second period. Following Kim (Int Econ J 3:53–63, 1989), it is assumed that consumers differ in valuing the service rate of used goods. Their valuations are represented by a parameter θ, with a higher θ denoting consumers with a greater willingness to pay. In this study, high-θ consumers are referred to as reuse-friendly consumers. The new durable good is supplied in a competitive market. After the purchaser has used the good for one period, (s)he can sell it, keep it or throw it away. If a consumer decides to enter the second-hand market, (s)he has to pay a transaction cost. In equilibrium, the price of used goods will be determined endogenously by a second-hand market; it depends on the value of transaction costs. Thus, whether the second-hand market exists or not also depends on the value of transaction costs. It is shown that the amount of durable goods that is wasted is minimal when a second-hand market exists. When a second-hand market does not exist, increase in reuse-friendly consumers leads to decrease in the amount of waste. In the case of the second-hand market, when many consumers begin to reuse, the welfare of consumers who do not buy used goods will be improved.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Waldman (2003) conducted a good survey study on the economics of durable goods. Shinkuma (2007) studied recycling policies using a model of durable goods. Thomas (2003) studied material consumption using a model of second-hand markets.

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Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Takayoshi Shinkuma, Kazuhiro Ueta and the two anonymous referees and editors of this journal for their helpful comments. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows 20-5428.

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Correspondence to Hide-Fumi Yokoo.

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Yokoo, H. An economic theory of reuse. Sustain Sci 5, 143 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-009-0091-3

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Keywords

  • Durable good
  • Economic model
  • Reuse
  • Second-hand market
  • Waste