Toward Estimating Displaced Primary Production from Recycling: A Case Study of U.S. Aluminum

13 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2018

See all articles by Trevor Zink

Trevor Zink

Loyola Marymount University - College of Business Administration

Roland Geyer

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management

Richard Startz

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)

Date Written: April 2018

Abstract

Recycling materials from end‐of‐life products has the potential to create environmental benefit by displacing more harmful primary material production. However, displacement is governed by market forces and is not guaranteed; if full displacement does not occur, the environmental benefits of recycling are reduced or eliminated. Therefore, quantifying the true “displacement rate” caused by recycling is essential to accurately assess environmental benefits and make optimal environmental management decisions. Our 2016 article proposed a market‐based methodology to estimate actual displacement rates following an increase in recycling or reuse. The current article demonstrates the operation, utility, and challenges of that methodology in the context of the U.S. aluminum industry. Sensitivity analyses reveal that displacement estimates are sensitive to uncertainty in price elasticities. Results suggest that 100% displacement is unlikely immediately following a sustained supply‐driven increase in aluminum recycling and even less likely in the long term. However, zero and even negative displacement are possible. A variant of the model revealed that demand‐driven increases in recycling are less likely than supply‐driven changes to result in full displacement. However, model limitations exist and challenges arose in the estimation process, the effects of which are discussed. We suggest implications for environmental assessment, present lessons learned from applying the estimation methodology, and highlight the need for further research in the market dynamics of recycling.

Keywords: aluminum, circular economy, displacement, industrial ecology, recycling, waste management

Suggested Citation

Zink, Trevor and Geyer, Roland and Startz, Richard, Toward Estimating Displaced Primary Production from Recycling: A Case Study of U.S. Aluminum (April 2018). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 22, Issue 2, pp. 314-326, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3161126 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12557

Trevor Zink (Contact Author)

Loyola Marymount University - College of Business Administration ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90045
United States

Roland Geyer

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management ( email )

4670 Physical Sciences North
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5131
United States

Richard Startz

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
421
PlumX Metrics