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Vermont Journal of Environmental Law

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recycling, deposits, environment


Environmental Law | Law


States can foster recycling of waste materials through a variety of policies. The majority of the states have recycling laws for waste products such as glass, plastic, cans, and paper. These laws vary in terms of stringency. The hierarchy we developed orders the laws as follows: laws that make recycling mandatory, laws that require the provision of recycling opportunities, laws that require the development of a recycling plan, and laws that specify a recycling goal. Based on national recycling data with over 400,000 observations, we find that the amount of recycling households undertake increases with the degree of stringency of the legal structure. Other legal recycling initiatives consist of laws that have established deposit policies, which a minority of states have done. Deposit policies establish financial incentives to promote recycling. States with deposit policies exhibit higher recycling rates for glass, plastic, and cans than states that have not enacted such laws. The higher recycling rates, for paper in the bottle deposit states, may reflect a broader impact of deposit policies on households’ recycling behavior for products not covered by the deposits.



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