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Metals recycling: economic and environmental implications

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We are in a period of economic transition. The "cowboy economy" of the past is obsolescent, if not obsolete. Environmental services are no longer free goods, and this fact is driving major changes. Recycling is the wave of the (immediate) future. The potential savings in terms of energy and capital have long been obvious. The savings in terms of reduced environmental impact are less obvious but increasingly important. The obstacle to greater use recycling has been the fact that economies of scale still favor large primary and smelting complexes over (necessarily) smaller and less centralized recyclers. Increasing energy and other resource costs, together with increasing costs of waste disposal, will favor this shift in any case. But government policies, driven by unemployment and environmental concerns, taken together may accelerate the shit by gradually reducing taxes on labor and increasing taxes on extractive resource use

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