Municipal Solid Waste Recycling
Recycling is a valid response to a potentially catastrophic environmental problem. The United States has increased its overall recycling rate considerably over the past half-century. The human economy, however, continues to propagate the extraction and consumption of finite natural resources at rapid and unsustainable rates. Waste that could be recycled is being land-filled and incinerated, leading to myriad forms of environmental degradation. Recycling practices effectively reduce degradation and augment resource scarcity. Future generations stand to receive the costs of the current generation's actions without being able to enjoy the corresponding benefits. This paper examines in depth 1) the current state of the recycling industry in the United States; 2) intergenerational equity in terms of environmental quality and resource availability; 3) the inadequacies of environmental policy making based on cost-benefit analysis methodologies, including the use of discount rates; and 4) potential solutions to the aforementioned issues.