Environmental economics is a branch of economics which is concerned with environmental issues. The field is concerned with environmental management programs which ensure that the rate of pollutions is highly reduced. Globally, there is a great concern on various ecological concerns such as environmental policies aimed at improving water quality, address air pollution, global warming, solid waste management, and toxic substances. Rapid population growth and industrialization have positively contributed to environmental pollution both in the developing and developed nations. The developing countries have poor resources allocations.
Consequently, this leads to poor policy implementation and increased rate of infection. According to Balthasar et al. (p. 28), various nations have embraced public-private partnership to address the issues of environmental conservation. Companies are also expected to adopt the corporate social responsibilities thus ensuring that every entity manages its wastes. Notably, this will help to eradicate the risks associated with poor environmental conditions. For example, poor environmental conditions may lead to cancer, cholera, drought, etc. This paper will focus on environmental policies which have been instituted by various governments to minimize environmental pollution. The paper will also outline the impacts of economics on environmental policies.
The increasing rate of solid waste is a serious problem in urban areas throughout the world. The World Bank has indicated that the Asian urban centers generate more than 0.76 million tons of solid wastes. Remarkably, this is approximated to 2.7 million M3 per day. The study has indicated that, by 2025, the level of solid waste will increase to 1.8 million tons per year which are approximately 5.2 million M3 per day. Balthasar et al. (p. 45) postulated that the solid waste generators can be categorized into various groups which include; institutions, commercial, industrial, residential, construction and demolition, agricultural and municipal waste generators. The municipal waste solid wastes comprise of; discarded non-durable and durable goods, food scraps, containers, miscellaneous inorganic debris etc. this paper focus on various policies imposed by the different nation to address the issue of municipal solid waste management.
The EU in 2017 heavily fined Italy due to the reduced waste management program. The country was linked to the high level of smog in the northern part of the country. The country has also faced a great challenge due to uncontrollable fire particularly in the region referred to as the land of the mafia. The high level of pollution is also associated with an increased rate of cancer in the region (Hecker, Christian, and Hannah Hornung p. 35).
The Italian government is hierarchical in nature. Notably, it is organized from national, regional, provincial and municipality. The provincial government is mandated to authorize all the municipalities within a given province. For the purpose of the study at hand, this paper chose to evaluate environmental and economic policies of Torino province in Italy. The country imposed a National Waste Decree in 1997. The policy was divided into regional and provincial waste management plan. The later, aimed at reduction of wastes, recycling, and waste disposal. The provincial waste management plan was to last for five years after which it was to be updated depending on the prevailing situation.
Waste reduction plan mainly involves the process of production and distribution (Hecker, Christian, and Hannah Hornung p. 33). For this reason, therefore, the provincial government have less control over this program. The national and regional government has imposed laws that govern industrial activities. For example, firms should reduce the rate of emission into the atmosphere. The regional government also enforce that every company is responsible for proper waste management. Failure to comply with the law, the firm is either heavily penalized or deregistered. The provincial government, however, is concerned with the waste management program. The main aim is to build biological treatment plants and construction of waste incineration. The organic wastes are separated at the source. They are sorted out and separated from non-biodegradable materials. They are then used to manufacture useful components such as compost manure (Pacheco, Ramon p. 22). Remarkably, this program encourages recycling of solid waste materials particularly the kitchen wastes. The program, however, has faced vital challenges such as insufficient financial support, lack of a ready market of compost manure and inadequate capacity to treat all the wastes generated within Torino. The treatment cost is significantly high; therefore, the provincial government recommends financial support from the regional government. The provincial government also advocates for the construction of more treatment facilities thus increasing the capacity of the firms (Pacheco, Ramon p. 45).
In an attempt to encourage farmers to use compost materials, the regional government offers incentives to those who apply the product. For example, every farmer who utilizes compost materials is rewarded 220 Euros per hector (Cruz et al. p. 87). The existing landfills are almost filled up. The government, therefore, established a waste incineration plant. The municipality hosting the landfills charges a tax 15 Euro for every one tone of waste. 2.5 Euro per ton goes to the municipality while 5% is channeled to the provincial government. The remaining amount is taken to the regional government. The incineration tax is relatively lower compared to landfills. There is no tax charged for both recycling and composting.
In Torino, the municipal solid waste (MSW) is managed by a public company known as AMIAT. The company is responsible for; collection, transportation, delivery to recycling plants and disposal. The municipality is mandated to finance all the activities of the firm. The funds are generated from waste fees. The general waste management fee, which includes collection, transport, and disposal, amounts to 97 Euro per resident per year. However, the government has indicated an increment in the waste charges so as to cater to all the waste management activities (Cruz et al. p. 77)
Poland generates 80% of its electricity from coal. According to the UN’s COP24 Climate Conference in Katowise, this city is among the most polluted urban centers in Europe. The city hosts more than 300000 residents. The world health organization has also indicated that, among the 50 most polluted cities in Europe, 36 are from Poland. During the conference, the country was urged to reduce energy generation from coal by 20%. The use of coal is also attributed to air pollution in Poland. The government however, has launched a program known as ‘stop smog’. The program was allocated 25 billion euros. The local governments have also been challenged to update the furnaces used to insulate the streets during winter season.
The first environmental law in Poland was enforced in 1981. The law was less effective since it addressed the environmental issues in general. The law was amended in 2001 and implemented in 2002. The new law emphasized on principles of prevention, polluter-pays, precautionary and resident access to environmental information. The law of end-of-product-life insisted that the producers are mandated to take care of end-of-life management. Outstandingly, this law mainly affected electrical and electronic producers as well as motor vehicle companies.
The Poland government, however, has emphasized on the laws regarding, development of means of separate collection of harmful wastes within the municipal solid wastes. Secondly, the government aims at providing all the citizens with suitable waste collection system and to avoid dumping outside common control. The government also aims at increasing the efficiency of distinct collection particularly in biodegradable materials (Cruz et al. p. 34).
The government enforced the establishment of composting plants which would be supplied with biodegradable wastes as the raw materials. The government also encourages farmers to use compost manures in crop production. This paper will focus on one local government in Poland, that is, Katowice. The municipality is mandated to ensure that the community remains health; it is also mandated to manage separate collection recovery as well as monitoring MSW and hazardous wastes. The laws allow the private sector to participate in ensuring solid waste management. Private firms are, therefore, permitted to operate as long as they comply with the legal requirements. The key challenge facing Katowice municipality is lack of sufficient funding as well as restriction from the central government.
The government has also instituted long-term goals to manage landfills. For instance, in 2006 the government enforced a law which specifies the various materials to be landfilled. The policy also requires that the waste is tested in authorized laboratories before dumping them. The Katowice waste management plan has also recommended incineration of municipal solid wastes due to lack of market for compost materials. The program, however, has faced stiff rejection by the public. The citizens perceive the program as relatively expensive compared to other alternatives.
Poland’s government has also developed a policy to make green energy from solid waste. The policy is aimed at recycling the wastes thus generating fuel. Notably, this will reduce the cost of fuels within the country; reduce importation cost more so minimize the emission of greenhouse gases thus reducing greenhouse effect (Cruz et al. p. 27). Katowice’s MSW is managed by MPGK; – a company established in 1990. The company is owned by the Katowice municipally. The firm faces competition from other private entities authorized to collect wastes from the citizens.
A report by the University of Copenhagen indicted that more than 2000 people in Denmark suffer from heart diseases due to particles emitted by burning wood and fuel. According to the Danish Heart Association emissions from vehicles and industries are highly responsible for the high rate of heart disease. The association has also recommended for green energy within the country. The Danish heart association indicated that Denmark has the greatest wind power stations in the world and the government would easily substitute the use of fossil with clean energy (Jaiswal et al. p. 109)
The following elements guide the Danish waste management; enhancement of cost-effectiveness of the ecological plans and the quality of waste management, lessening of loss of resources and environmental effects of wastes and finally, decoupling of waste generation from economic development. The government encourages recycling and prevention. Remarkably, to achieve this, the government has imposed high taxation on landfilling and incineration. The policy was implemented in 1987 and has remained active. By then, landfilling tax increased from 5.35 Euro per ton to 50.16 Euro.
Similarly, the cost of incineration rose from 5.35Euro per ton to 44.14 Euro. Tollose municipality in Denmark introduced a weight-based waste fee program. The policy also encourages separation of waste; the organic materials form inorganic wastes. The policy of incineration is also highly endorsed within Denmark. Notably, this is associated with the little land available as well as overdependence on groundwater (Jaiswal et al. p. 1).
The waste management system in Denmark is characterized of the door to door collection. The government has allowed private firms to operate within the sector. The Danish waste management policy in advocate for weight-based pricing system. Outstandingly, this discourages the generation of waste, both at the residential and commercials levels. In Tollose, each household is provided with two waste bins. One is green in color while the other one is red. Biodegradable wastes are dumped into the green bin while the rest are dumped into the red bin. The waste containers are computerized. Every waste contain has a microchip. When the bin is weighed, the computer captures the details of the citizen to whom the container belongs.
The Denmark and Poland programs have endorsed the principle of privatization. The economic situations in both nations favor privatization of municipal solid waste management. However, in Poland, the government has no chance to offer basic services to the citizens. To change the law, a constitutional referendum has to be conducted and 31% of the voters should accept. Consequently this will allow the municipalities to take control over waste management (Jaiswal et al. p. 57).
The door-to-door source separation initiative has also been found effective both in Torino in Italy and Tollose in Denmark. The Italian government has introduced incentives to the citizens to encourage them o separate their waste thus ensuring that the process is efficient.
Italy and Poland are keen to recycling of waste materials. Poland’s government aims at providing incentives to energy companies to produce and utilize green energy. This policy has a great economic impact within the country. First, the consumption of fossil fuels will decline. Notably, this will encourage the exportation of commodities since the cost of production will decrease. Secondly, air pollution will also significantly lessen due to the reduced emission of carbon (IV) Oxide into the atmosphere. Implementation of the program will also reduce the cost of fuels thus consumption expenditure decreases thus encouraging saving and investment (Jaiswal et al. p. 42).
Similarly, Italian policy will encourage organic farming. Inorganic farming affects soil pH. As a result, the soil living micro-organism is highly affected this reducing soil aeration. Soil pollution may hinder crop productivity leading to food insecurity. The government initiative to promote recycling of degradable wastes helps to reduce the amount of waste in the landfills. The program also helps to reduce the cost of farming which significantly increases crop yield. The recycling firms in both nations provide job opportunities within the nations in question (Hecker, Christian, and Hannah Hornung p. 5).
Land shortage is also a key concern in both Italy and Denmark. The nations aim at reducing the volume of wastes in the dumping sites. The policy has a great economic impact on economic growth in ether country. First, the incinerators are used to generate heat, particularly in the winter season. The wastes are burnt to produce steam which is used to rotate turbines. The turbines are rotated to generate electricity which is then used in heating urban centers. Secondly, the incinerators are less likely to pollute the environment compared to the landfill (Hecker, Christian, and Hannah Hornung p. 24).
In conclusion, environmental conservation is paramount. Environmental pollutions lead to poor economic growth within a country. For example, water pollution would lead to diseases such as cholera. Notably, this would lead to the loss of manpower and experts to drive the economy. Greenhouse gasses would also affect the ozone layer. Consequently, citizens would suffer from serious infections such as skin cancer. The disease is deadly and would be expensive to manage to imply that, people would spend the highest percentage of their income on hospital bills instead of saving and investment. As a result, this would negatively impact on the economy.
Various stakeholders should take part in environmental conservation. For example, a research-based institution would help policymakers to develop critical policies which would help to overcome the challenge. Non-governmental organizations would also educate people, finance projects and offer ideological to the legislatures during the policy-making process. Municipal waste management is a collective responsibility. The government has a central role to play and guide the public. The private sector should also support government initiatives in eradication air, water, and soil pollution.
The use of fossil fuels has significantly contributed to air pollution. Various states should, therefore, advocate the use of clean fuels such as nuclear energy, wind energy, and hydroelectricity. Such resources are recyclable and can easily be tapped.
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