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The Economics of Recycling

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The Economics of Recycling

We continue our look this week at The World’s Waste. It's a coproduction with Chicago Matters: Growing Forward.

As concerns about climate change have grown, more and more economists say the markets will force us to use energy and raw materials more efficiently. Recycling — what we recycle and how we do it —certainly factors into that equation.

As the price of oil surges, so does the cost of making polymer-based products, like plastics. While plastic recycling lags behind aluminum and paper recycling, oil prices could push companies to find new ways to reuse plastic bags and bottles. 

Frank Ackerman is a senior economist at the U.S. branch of the Stockholm Environmental Institute at Tufts University in Massachusetts . He's author of the book Why Do We Recycle?: Markets, Values, and Public Policy.

In this area we've moved primarily to single bin recycling — where we throw all the re-cycled material into one container.

Jerome asked Frank if this makes economic sense…

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