Addressing the Economics of Waste by Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development

By Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development

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These plans all give priority to preventing and reducing waste generation through recovery; disposal by incineration or landfilling is a least desirable solution of last resort from a public health and environmental standpoint. ¾ Almost all the OECD countries now apply the principle of extended producer responsibility (EPR) for a certain number of products that pose end-of-life problems either because of their volume or because they contain dangerous substances. Producers, importers and distributors are generally required to organise the collection and recycling of these end-of-life products.

Groundwater pollution may also exceed authorised levels, often due to leachate from landfills. Non-compliance may partly be explained by the lack or inadequacy of environmental monitoring and penalties and by higher taxes on landfill and final disposal or the introduction of “pay-as-you-throw” taxes, based on the weight of waste produced (Kinnaman and Fullerton, Horton). x Poor waste management in the past can create an inherited burden. In several countries, unsupervised landfills have led to the long-term contamination of soil and groundwater.

This perception may have emerged in 1987, when the barge “Mobro”, loaded with Long Island garbage, was unable to unload its cargo after repeated attempts (see Bailey, 1995, for a discussion of the incident). A wave of state and local legislation encouraging or mandating recycling was passed soon after this incident. In addition, voters read newspaper stories that landfills were closing faster than they were opening. S. fell by nearly 75%, during 1988-2000, from about 8,000 to only 2,100 (Glenn, 1998 and Biocycle, 2001).

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