Pros and Cons of Recycling
There is some debate over whether recycling is economically efficient. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council study, waste collection and landfill disposal creates less than one job per 1,000 tons of waste material managed; in contrast, the collection, processing, and manufacturing of recycled materials creates 6–13 or more jobs per 1,000 tons. However, the cost effectiveness of creating the additional jobs remains unproven. According to the U.S. Recycling Economic Informational Study, there are over 50,000 recycling establishments that have created over a million jobs in the US.
Two years after New York City declared that implementing recycling programs would be "a drain on the city", New York City leaders realized that an efficient recycling system could save the city over $20 million. Municipalities often see fiscal benefits from implementing recycling programs, largely due to the reduced landfill costs. A study conducted by the Technical University of Denmark according to the Economist found that in 83 percent of cases, recycling is the most efficient method to dispose of household waste. However, a 2004 assessment by the Danish Environmental Assessment Institute concluded that incineration was the most effective method for disposing of drink containers, even aluminium ones.
Fiscal efficiency is separate from economic efficiency. Economic analysis of recycling does not include what economists call externalities, which are unpriced costs and benefits that accrue to individuals outside of private transactions. Examples include: decreased air pollution and greenhouse gases from incineration, reduced hazardous waste leaching from landfills, reduced energy consumption, and reduced waste and resource consumption, which leads to a reduction in environmentally damaging mining and timber activity. About 4,000 minerals are known, of which only a few hundred are relatively common. Known reserves of phosphorus will be exhausted within the next 100 years at current rates of usage. Without mechanisms such as taxes or subsidies to internalize externalities, businesses may ignore them despite the costs imposed on society. To make such nonfiscal benefits economically relevant, advocates have pushed for legislative action to increase the demand for recycled materials. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has concluded in favor of recycling, saying that recycling efforts reduced the country's carbon emissions by a net 49 million metric tonnes in 2005. In the United Kingdom, the Waste and Resources Action Programme stated that Great Britain's recycling efforts reduce CO2 emissions by 10–15 million tonnes a year. Recycling is more efficient in densely populated areas, as there are economies of scale involved.
Certain requirements must be met for recycling to be economically feasible and environmentally effective. These include an adequate source of recyclates, a system to extract those recyclates from the waste stream, a nearby factory capable of reprocessing the recyclates, and a potential demand for the recycled products. These last two requirements are often overlooked—without both an industrial market for production using the collected materials and a consumer market for the manufactured goods, recycling is incomplete and in fact only "collection".
Free-market economist Julian Simon remarked "There are three ways society can organize waste disposal: (a) commanding, (b) guiding by tax and subsidy, and (c) leaving it to the individual and the market". These principles appear to divide economic thinkers today.
Frank Ackerman favours a high level of government intervention to provide recycling services. He believes that recycling's benefit cannot be effectively quantified by traditional laissez-faire economics. Allen Hershkowitz supports intervention, saying that it is a public service equal to education and policing. He argues that manufacturers should shoulder more of the burden of waste disposal.
Paul Calcott and Margaret Walls advocate the second option. A deposit refund scheme and a small refuse charge would encourage recycling but not at the expense of fly-tipping. Thomas C. Kinnaman concludes that a landfill tax would force consumers, companies and councils to recycle more.
Most free-market thinkers detest subsidy and intervention because they waste resources. Terry Anderson and Donald Leal think that all recycling programmes should be privately operated, and therefore would only operate if the money saved by recycling exceeds its costs. Daniel K. Benjamin argues that it wastes people's resources and lowers the wealth of a population.
The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) then again reported in May 2015, that recycling and waste made a $6.7 billion economic impact in Ohio, U.S., and employed 14,000 people.
Nara Loca Abadi is a recycled plastic specialist that promotes the use of recycled PET flakes, recycled PET chips, recycled PP & HDPE granules to various plastic and polyester manufacturers. It is not only about the profit, but also the planet.
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