Curbside recycling: Waste resource or waste of resources?
Article first published online: 6 SEP 2006
© 2006 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 855–874, Autumn (Fall) 2006
How to Cite
Aadland, D. and Caplan, A. J. (2006), Curbside recycling: Waste resource or waste of resources?. J. Pol. Anal. Manage., 25: 855–874. doi: 10.1002/pam.20211
- Issue published online: 6 SEP 2006
- Article first published online: 6 SEP 2006
In this paper, we address the often contentious debate over state and local recycling policy by carefully estimating the social net benefit of curbside recycling. Benefits are estimated using household survey data from over 4,000 households across 40 western U.S. cities. We calibrate household willingnesstopay for hypothetical bias using an innovative experimental design that contrasts stated and revealed preferences. Cost estimates are compiled from previous studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Institute for Local Self Reliance, and from indepth interviews with recycling coordinators in our sampled cities. Across our sample of cities, we find that the estimated mean social net benefit of curbside recycling is almost exactly zero. On a citybycity basis, however, our social netbenefit analysis often makes clear predictions about whether a curbside recycling program is an efficient use of resources. Surprisingly, several curbside recycling programs in our sample appear to be inefficient. © 2006 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.