Please help with internalized costs argument
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:52:50 -0500

To: All
Fm: Amy Perry, MASSPIRG

I spoke as part of a roundtable discussion on the future of recycling at the
New England Envionmental Expo last week. Joining me on the panel were:

Earl Gorman, Container Recycling Alliance (glass)
Paul Thompson, Steel Recycling Institute
Ron Perkins, American Plastics Council
MA state recycling director (Robin Ingenthron)
a local recycling hauler/processor (Ben Harvey)
Jon Gold, Newark Group (recycled paper manufacturer)
John Stutz, Tellus Institute
Steve Anderson from RRS (MRF operator)

The session was organized and moderated by Edgar Miller, NRC.

Key questions discussed:
What is an achievable national recycling rate, what are the major barriers to
increasing recycling, commodity-specific problems/difficulties, what
steps/strategies are needed to increase recycling.

Needless to say, I was the radical of the bunch. But I was not nearly as
compelling as I should have been on one point: that of internalized costs.
This is what I mean:

The conversation continually returned to the cost issue -- recycled
feedstocks cost more, recycling economics are tough, etc. While we of course
talked about minimum content standards, procurement, and other market
improvement tactics to improve recycling's economics, I did not say, nor did
anyone else, that the root problem is that society has not yet figured out
how to "price" the value of clean air, etc. so all of the costs being
discussed were not true, full costs.

Does anyone on this list have a simple way of explaining this argument, like
1 or 2 paragprahs, that they have written or read, that I and possibly others
who, although experienced in the field, could learn from??

Thanks so much.