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[greenyes] Nova Scotia Recycling Cost Study Including Externalities


02:00 AM Sep. 13, 2004 PT

Over the past nine years, Nova Scotia has emerged as a world leader in
recycling, sending only about half its garbage to landfills or incinerators.

While recycling programs cost more than dumping trash into a big hole, a new
study finds that the sparsely populated Canadian province is actually saving
money by reducing its waste. When all the costs and benefits of those
programs are measured, and depending on what factors are taken into account,
the report (.pdf) says that Nova Scotia saves anywhere from $25 million to
$125 million every year.

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The report is by GPI Atlantic (the "GPI" stands for Genuine Progress Index),
a research group that has spent a decade developing tools for quantifying
hard-to-measure realities such as the value of volunteerism, household work
or air quality.

"If there's no number associated with something, it's assumed to be zero,"
said Sally Walker, a senior researcher at GPI Atlantic and co-author of the

Simply adding up the costs of recycling and the revenue generated from sales
of recycled materials would show that the program cost the province $18
million a year more than just throwing trash into landfills, Walker said.

To get an accurate picture of the real value of Nova Scotia's recycling and
composting program, the report considered a number of factors, including how
much energy was saved by using recycled materials instead of those extracted
from virgin resources. It also determined the direct and indirect value
generated from new employment in the recycling sector and from nearly
doubling the lifespan of the remaining landfills.

"It takes three to four or even more times as much energy to make something
from raw materials than from recycled," Walker said.

The report also included the real but uncounted cost of existing landfills,
which leak, gave off noxious gases and are home to large numbers of rats and
seagulls -- all of which affect the quality of life and property values of
nearby residents.

Peter Anderson, President
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