Université Nice Sophia Antipolis and GREDEG/CNRS
Many studies highlight the evolution of consumption patterns and the increasing power of an ecological conscience as likely to change consumers' behaviours and choice criteria. A growing group of ‘pro-environmental’ consumers favour environmental and ethical criteria in their consumption choices. At the same time, consumers' requirements have resulted in the creation of products and services that generate significant waste. The increase in their volume is such that waste management currently is a major issue for public authorities. The European Commission estimates that ‘Today in the EU, each person consumes 16 tons of materials annually, of which 6 tons are wasted, with half going to landfill’.1 Generally, law offers a broad definition for the concept of waste, and policy objectives are ambitious. For example, European Directive 75/442/CEE defines waste as ‘any substance or object of which the holder disposes or has a duty to dispose of under the national provisions in force’, and reducing residual waste to zero by 2020 is a declared aim for the European Commission.
This paper provides a review of the economic literature on household waste management and recycling, which considers unsorted waste (residual waste) as a source of negative externalities, and as wasted resources. This literature is important ...