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RE: [greenyes] Integrated Waste Hierarchy - Attacked in Europe

For those more interested in this topic, you might want to look at the
agenda, which is at
You will see that there were four economists speaking at the seminar, two
from the US and two from Europe.

From the US, Frank Ackerman is the author of the book "Why Do We Recycle",
which many people are perhaps familar with, and a short review can be found

Also from the US is Richard Porter's, whose book, "The Economics of Waste"
was published in 2002 by Resources for the Future. I was not able to find a
detailed review of his book, however, I just finished reading it, and, while
it contains many interesting points, I also found that it had many
shortcomings, assumptions that did not seem supportable, and what I believe
are errors. For example, he does not assign values for known externalities
from solid waste activities and assumes that dry-tomb landfills have minimal
long term impacts. Mr. Porter is a professor emeritus in the deparment of
economics at the University of Michigan.

On the European side, Professor David Pearce has been involved in a number
of environmental valuation studies on solid waste and was the advisor to
Inger Brisson, whose PhD thesis on the externalities of solid waste
management in Europe have been listed here repeatedly, and a summary can be
found on the Internet at He is also
referenced often in the UK Friends of the Earth/Waste Watch study of solid
waste direct costs and externalities "Beyond the Bin", with a summary found
on the Internet at

Also from Europe is Professor Herman R.J. Vollebergh from Rotterdam, who
along with Elbert Dijkgraaf has written a number of solid waste papers,
including "Burn or Bury? A Social Cost Comparison of Final Waste Disposal
Methods", available on the Internet at

I hope these references are of help. Perhaps some of the economists on this
list may want to look at the work of the various economists at this seminar
and develop a detailed critique.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Anderson [mailto:anderson@no.address]
> Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 4:11 PM
> To: GreenYes
> Subject: [greenyes] Integrated Waste Hierarchy - Attacked in Europe
> fyi
> -------------------------
> Europe urged to rethink the waste hierarchy
> Environment Daily 1791, 16/12/04
> -------------------------
> A group of economists brought together by Denmark's Environmental
> assessment institute (EAI) has called on the EU to rethink its use of
> the waste hierarchy. The bloc places too much emphasis on recycling,
> and recycling targets are too harmonised, the institute said following
> a seminar at its Copenhagen offices.
> Complaints about "rigid" application of the waste hierarchy are almost
> as old as the concept itself. EAI is calling for
> cost-benefit analysis
> (CBA) to be used as the key tool to prioritise between waste
> management
> options. Four years ago EU employers' association Unice was calling
> for exactly the same kind of flexibility under a banner of "integrated
> resource and waste management" (ED 28/03/00

At the seminar organised to discuss EAI's planned report on the waste
hierarchy, environmental economist David Pearce was most forthright in
his criticism of the status quo. "I'd rather get rid of it" [the
hierarchy], because it inevitably leads to problems, he told the

Professor Pearce reported research that both the EU's 1994 and revised
2004 packaging directives "fail" the cost-benefit test. The first
imposed costs of UK£74 (?108) per tonne recovery while avoiding social
costs worth UK£30-50 in landfill impacts and UK£6-7 in terms of other
environmental externalities, he reported, giving a benefits to costs
ratio of only 0.6/1. The second has even higher recycling targets.

Meanwhile, University of Michigan academic Richard Porter argued
against "quantity-based" policies such as high and fixed recycling
targets and for "price-based" policies. Policy makers often prefer the
former, despite their shortcomings, because they are easy to do and
don't require detailed study to justify, he claimed.

Developed in the 1970s, the waste hierachy gives top priority to
source reduction (waste prevention), followed, in order by reuse,
recycling (plus composting), incineration and finally landfill. Under
a more detailed ranking incineration with energy recovery is followed
by landfill with energy recovery, then straight incineration and
finally straight landfill.


Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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