Recycling the mountain of paper

Britain’s recycling strategy is under risk following a collapse in waste paper prices. Three quarters of UK waste paper is exported to Far Eastern buyers, but demand from this region has collapsed in recent months. The price collapse has led to a surplus of recyclable paper and some local authorities have proposed using Ministry of Defence (MoD) sites to store the waste while there is no market or use for it.

Paper price collapse blows hole in Britain’s recycling strategy Guardian (11/11/08)
Recycled waste could be stored on MoD bases Guardian (16/11/08)


  1. Define the terms (i) private cost and (ii) external cost.
  2. What are the external costs resulting from disposing of waste paper and other recyclable products in landfill sites?
  3. Using diagrams as appropriate, illustrate the changes that have taken place in the market for waste paper.
  4. Evaluate two strategies that the government could adopt to increase the price of waste paper.
  5. Discuss the likely success of a policy of storing waste on MoD sites to await an upturn in the recycling market..