Thursday, October 14, 2010

If this is how the world worked....

... there would be a lot more recycling.

And, now for some economics of recycling. Here's Bryan Caplan, reciting the old motto, "Recycling is the philosophy that everything is worth saving except your time."

If you have some time to kill, read this more expansive look at the economics of recycling by Daniel K. Benjamin. Here's an excerpt from the conclusion to whet your appetite for the 33 pages of analysis that precede it:
Recycling is a long-practiced, productive, indeed essential, element of the market system. Informed, voluntary recycling conserves resources and raises our wealth, enabling us to achieve valued ends that would otherwise be impossible. In sharp contrast, however, mandatory recycling programs, in which people are compelled to do what they will not do voluntarily, routinely make society worse off. Such programs force people to squander valuable resources in a quixotic quest to save what they would sensibly discard. On balance, mandatory recycling programs lower our wealth.

Misinformation about the costs and benefits of recycling is as destructive as mandatory recycling programs, for it induces people to engage in wasteful activity.
If my typing weren't slowed by this darn plastic bottle stuck to my right hand, I would probably read the entire article. If you aren't so constrained, you should give it a read.

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