I look at my city's tradition through an economic lens
Great column. And great social institution.
For this situation and for waste policy generally the concept from physics of "entropy" offers a nice analogy.
(And if you were a cheeky consultant working on E-waste policy for the Victorian government you would definitely include a whole line about entropy from Muse's "2nd law" album in your regulatory impact statement)
Entropy in the waste/materials context can be thought of as how easily the economic value of the materials can be extracted.
Small amounts of energy (i.e. lifting) applied efficiently (i.e. on the same day) move matter from a high-entropy state to a low-entropy state (i.e. bundled up on the sidewalk visible for others with low search costs).
I would love to see our policy focus on waste shift from trying to make business-as-usual waste models more cost-efficient to asking "what minimal energy actions that are incentive-compatible could reduce entropy the most?"
On E-waste I had grand visions of the state co-ordinating waste collection and diversion to create an enormous hanger full of old TVs.... a low entropy state from which materials extraction and recycling at scale would (surely - though I have not run the numbers) become feasible.
Growing up in Brisbane, my assumption was always that the council said they’d come on Monday, but wouldn’t come until Thursday in order to let the scavengers pick through the piles, which is an efficient outcome for all involved.
Now living in Melbourne, I noticed that our council collections say that picking from people’s piles is prohibited (as if that’s stopping anyone) but also incredibly prompt. Our last collection earlier this year they were out on the street collecting 7am of the advised day. Too efficient to let the market work!
I grew up on the Sunshine Coast, where they do not do kerbside pick up. It's a great thing that Brisbane does and people on the Coast don't know what they're missing. My family cleaned out my Grandma's basement earlier this year and there was literally so much crap we were worried the council wouldn't take it because there was so much, and quite a few big bulky items. 3 days later 90% of it was gone from scavengers. Amazing.
I once got a stunningly good old wooden coffee table that has different woods through it to create patterns on the table surface. It's bonkers the stuff people will just throw out. It took a good few hours of sanding and staining to get it back into condition, and It's got a little chip in it in the corner but I would be confident I could get a few hundred $$ if I ever tried to resell it. You would need to pay a carpenter a lot of money for them to build something like it from scratch these days.
Really enjoy that you present your writing and insights in a really accessible manner. So much economic writing is overly laden with jargon and framed in ways that are basically impenetrable to those not formally trained in the language.
Reminds me of may happy visits to the city dump when I was a kid. I got a lot of stuff for my science "experiments," none of which resulted in any lucrative breakthroughs, but it was fun.
Even outside formal kerbside collection windows, if you leave something that looks (and is!) like it could be useful (ie: isn't obviously rubbish) out on the kerb it will typically be gone in a matter of hours.
Have done this numerous times with things that were still serviceable, but I just could not be arsed with the "correct" options (taking it to the tip, sell on FB/Gumtree/etc, store until the next pickup, etc). Even when I put stuff out during the formal kerbside collections, if it's something that might have a question mark over status (eg: an old TV or appliance), I'll put a sticky note on it with "Works!" or "Broken - screen smashed".
I enjoy the insights and perspectives shared throughout each article. Recently, I have been caught by surprise by the conclusions. Do we mean to say that public programs targeting pensioners has less public support compared to universal ones which help everyone coordinate kerbside pickup, even though the pensioner one was reinstated? Just a tad confused.