Keywords: disposal activities, exhaustible resources, innovations, joint production, negative price, renewable resources, rule of free goods, unintended consequences, waste disposal, industrial ecology
Goods and bads: sundry observations on joint production, waste disposal, and renewable and exhaustible resources
The paper starts from the premise that nobody intends on purpose to pollute the environment, render animal species extinct, etc. And yet what nobody intends happens all the time. The present paper discusses to what extent the nonintended consequences of purposeful human activities are related to the fact that production is generally joint production, generating both goods and bads. After a brief introduction into the problems at hand with reference to major economists, the implications of the following assumptions are investigated within a simple analytical framework: (a) free disposal and the Rule of Free Goods; (b) costly disposal and the negativity of some price; (c) product-cum-process innovations that render it possible to transform bads into goods. The paper concludes with some observations on renewable and exhaustible resources.