Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Talkin trash

Posted by Rich Sweeney on December 3, 2007

In this week’s RFF policy commentary, Margaret Walls and UT Austin’s Don Fullerton discuss the economics of waste generation. The second paragraph lays out the scale of the problem:

Americans generate about 4.5 pounds of trash per person per day, 95 percent more than our neighbors to the north in Canada, 64 percent more than Australians, and 37 percent more than the French. This high per-capita rate, combined with our large population, means that the United States generates far more trash each year than other developed countries. The amount is also much greater than it used to be: in 1970, the average American generated only 3.25 pounds per day.

Unsurprisingly they advocate a Pigouvian tax, supplemented by programs to facilitate recycling and trash collection.

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