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RE: [GreenYes] RE: Recycling's Future and Pigovian taxes
Correct me if I'm wrong, but a Pigovian tax would be a tax on each unit of a
"wrong" (as opposed to a good) produced by a certain activity.  These taxes
are typically used for correcting situations where externalities exist and
to provide an economic, as opposed to regulatory, means of reducing the
negative activity.  Most often applied to pollution cases.  In this case, a
pigovian tax on waste would be on each ton, cubic yard, etc. of waste


-----Original Message-----
From: Wayne Turner []
Sent: Tuesday, February 26, 2002 2:05 PM
Subject: [GreenYes] RE: Recycling's Future and Pigovian taxes

Would someone care to enlighten me about what a Pigovian tax is?

B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 727 8418

>>> "Reindl, John" <> 02/26/02 09:39AM >>>
As noted in earlier email notes, several European countries are using
Pigovian taxes on solid waste disposal, including both landfills and
incinerators. This includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the UK. In Norway,
the tax was set after an extensive study was done on the externalities of
solid waste disposal and the tax was set at $40 a ton at landfills and
incinerators without energy recovery, somewhat less at incinerators with
energy recovery. An interesting report on evaluating the externalities of
solid waste management is the Ph.D thesis of Inger Brisson of Denmark, who
did her doctorate under Professor David Pearce in the UK. A report on her
work is on the Internet at 
<> .
In response to Helen's question, in most cases, it does not appear that the
tax has been used to fund environmental programs specifically. Instead, the
view seems to be that because the disposal of solid waste imposes costs on
the general public, it is sufficient to use the tax money for general
The field of economics that assigns economic values to environmental impacts
is often called environmental valuation. In Denmark, a national institute of
environmental valuation is being established and the controversial author
Bjørn Lomborg has been chosed to head this institute, according to an
article in today's Danish newspaper Politiken.
Besides imposing taxes on the environmental impacts of materials disposal,
it does not appear that Pigovian taxes have been applied in these countries
on the extraction of raw materials. Indeed, in at least several of these
countries, subsidies are given for virgin materials, as we do in the US.
If anyone would like other references to studies done in these countries on
the economic costs of externalities from solid waste, please let me know. In
return, I would appreciate knowing of such studies from other parts of the
John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI 

-----Original Message-----
From: Helen Spiegelman [] 
Sent: Monday, February 25, 2002 6:29 PM
To: Peter Anderson; GreenYes
Subject: Re: [GreenYes] Technology and Recycling's Future

Two cents:

I think Peter's right. A key risk to recyclers exists because of the gap
between them and the decision-makers in product/package design. No sooner
does the recycler invest in equipment to handle widget X than the producer
of widget X introduces a new-and-improved widget X' that the equipment can't
handle. If Widget X, Inc. were responsible for recycling as well as
producing its widgets, they might go for automated recycling equipment -- or
not -- but you can be sure there would be good communication between the
design-production dept and the recycling dept. This is, as I understand it,
the gap that Peter and PRP are trying to fill with plastics, right Peter?
This is why more and more of us are trying to get producers engaged in
recycling and believe that in the next phase recyclers will be suppliers to
producers, rather than to municipalities and an adjunct to the waste
industry, which is the current situation, more often than not. 

Peter, do you have any insights into how we can go about getting landfill
pricing right? Are you thinking of Pigovian taxes that would raise the
price, leveling the playing field with recycling? Seems to me that is a
necessary but not sufficient condition. If it is a tax/surcharge that will
level the price upwards, what will happen to the $$ collected? We need to be
thinking about how those $$ would be deployed in an economically efficient
way. Do you have any ideas?

At 05:40 PM 02/25/2002 -0600, Peter Anderson wrote:

    That's why we have to concentrate all of our fire power are getting
landfill pricing corrected...

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