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Angela Logomasini - Trash Counterproductive Waste Disposal Policies

Angela Logomasini - Trash Counterproductive Waste Disposal Policies

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Published by: Competitive Enterprise Institute on Dec 21, 2010
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05/12/2014

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202-331-1010 www.cei.org Competitive Enterprise Institue
Trash Counterproductive Waste DisposalPolicies
Solid waste.
Much of the nation’s cur-rent solid waste policies follow an outdated,politicized, and government-centered model.State and local regulators focus on decidinghow much waste should be recycled, placedin landfills, or burned in incinerators. This ap-proach fails to discover the most environmen-tally and economically sound mix of options.Policy makers lack the necessary informationand therefore focus on misplaced perceptionsabout the various disposal options. As a re-sult, they produce recycling programs that costmore than they save and use more resourcesthan they save. In contrast, private sector com-petition between recycling, landfilling, andincineration produces a market that reducescosts and saves resources.Federal policy makers should resist attempts
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to increase federal regulation in solid wastedisposal.Local governments should seek ways to in-
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crease private markets in the waste disposalindustry.They should change waste policies to allow
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market-driven competition between vari-ous disposal options—allowing recycling,landfilling, and incineration companies tocomplete so that the most environmentallyand economically sound mixture of disposaloptions results.
Electronic waste.
Increasingly, news reportsand environmental activists claim that we arefacing a new solid waste crisis. As a result of such rhetoric, Europe has passed several “e-waste” laws, U.S. states have begun lookinginto their own regulations, and members of Congress have proposed federal legislation.Unfortunately, misinformation and the mis-guided notion that government is positioned toimprove electronic waste disposal is leading tomisguided policies and legislation.Despite claims to the contrary, there is no
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“e-waste crisis.” E-waste risks and costs aremanageable by allowing private recyclingand disposal efforts to continue.Manufacturers should not be forced to take
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back electronic equipment, since they are inthe manufacturing—not disposal—business.Some firms have voluntary programs forrecycling computers, which offer a market-based approach for some products.Congress should avoid creating new gov-
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ernment e-waste programs, as they promiseto promote inefficiencies, increase environ-mental problems, and hinder market solu-tions.Consumers should not be taxed when they
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purchase computers or other electronics,but they should be responsible for dispos-ing of discarded products in a safe and legal

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