ABSTRACT

The United States of America has become one of the richest countries in theworld, which means that it produces huge amounts of goods and services forits citizenry. Alas, along with these “goods” come “bads”—and one of the most pervasive of these is waste, things that we don’t want but that can be dangerous or expensive to get rid of. Between 1960 and 1996, while the U.S. living standard (i.e., real gross domestic product per capita) was doubling, the volume of municipal solid waste (MSW) was rising from 2.7 to 4.3 pounds a day per person. As early as 1970, one author ranked waste in importance with air pollution and water pollution by calling it the “third pollution” (Small 1971).