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The idea that recycling is a moral obligation, as well as an economic one, is relatively new. Should we take a more hard-headed view of the economic costs and benefits?

Globalisation hasn’t just meant moving goods around – it’s meant moving rubbish around, too. For decades wealthy countries shipped huge volumes of waste to China for sorting and recycling. But now China is getting richer, it no longer wants to be a dumping ground – and the recycling industry is struggling to respond. For centuries people have reused and recycled to save money. The idea that it’s also a moral obligation is relatively new. Tim Harford asks if we should we take a more hard-headed view of the economic costs and benefits.

Producer: Ben Crighton
Editor: Richard Vadon

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14 minutes

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