Mike Munger, professor of economics and political science at Duke University and frequent guest of EconTalk, talks with host Russ Roberts about the economics and politics of recycling. Munger argues that recycling can save resources, of course, but it can also require more resources than production from scratch. Some curbside recycling, for example, makes sense, while other forms (such as green glass) may be akin to a form of religious expression rather than a wise policy that is environmentally productive. The conversation is based on Munger's recent essay at the Library of Economics and Liberty.
As usual, I greatly enjoyed Munger's wit, pragmatism, honesty, and analysis. I first met Dr. Munger a couple years ago at a Public Choice Outreach here at GMU the summer before starting my PhD. (That's also where I first met James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and Momma Betty.) I enjoy hearing him speak as much now as I did then.
Be sure to listen to the podcast. It's very well done and just might change the way you think about recycling.
For a less academic but far more entertaining view, here is a short Japanese commercial to promote recycling:
Dancing garbage. Guys with recycling containers on the their heads. Cute, J-Pop stars. Seriously, it has it all.
As entertaining as Munger can be, somehow I think these J-Pop stars have him beat...
Related links from the EconTalk website:
- "Think Globally, Act Irrationally: Recycling", by Mike Munger. Econlib, July 2, 2007.
- "Recycling," by Jane Shaw. Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.
- "Natural Resources," by William Baumol and Sue Anne Batey Blackman. Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.
- "Recyling is Garbage," by John Tierney. New York Times Magazine, June 30, 1996.
- "Thoughts on Freedom: I Recycle," by Don Boudreaux. The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty May 2002.
- The Economics of Recycling: A Child Could Understand, by Bryan Caplan. EconLog, April 23, 2007.
- The Waste of Recycling, by Bryan Caplan. EconLog, July 2, 2007.