Garbage and Recycling in Communities with Curbside Recycling and Unit-Based Pricing
This paper estimates the impact of a user fee and a curbside recycling program on garbage and recycling amounts, allowing for the possibility of endogenous policy choices. Previous estimates of the effects of these policies could be biased if unobserved variables such as local preference for the environment jointly impact the probability of implementing these policies and the levels of garbage and recycling collected in the community. A simple sequential model of local policymaking is estimated using original data gathered from a large cross-section of communities with user fees, combined with an even larger cross-section of towns without user fees but with and without curbside recycling programs. The combined data set is larger and more comprehensive than any used in previous studies. Without correction for endogenous policy, the price per unit of garbage collection has a negative effect on garbage and a positive cross-price effect on recycling. When we correct for endogenous policy, then the effect of the user fee on garbage increases, and the significance of the cross-price effect on recycling disappears.