An In-Depth Investigation into the Relationship Between Municipal Solid Waste Generation and Economic Growth in the City of Cape Town

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP07/2021 (revised, version: 2)
 
Publication date: September 2021
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)
 
Abstract:

Issues of landfill scarcity are propelling cities and countries to direct policy instruments towards waste management. An objective of achieving a green economy, of which there is decoupling of waste, has become the forefront of policy design in many cities around the globe. The City of Cape Town (CCT), facing similar landfill scarcity issues, has begun taking steps towards waste minimisation. To determine whether it is possible for the City to rely on economic growth to achieve absolute decoupling of waste, this study investigates the long- and short-run relationship between economic growth and municipal solid waste generation. This is done using both time series regression analysis and decoupling calculations. Furthermore, the Waste Kuznets Curve is investigated. Socio-economic and policy drivers of waste generation are included in the investigation to inform policy design. This study finds that the CCT has been experiencing long-run relative decoupling of waste, with short-run fluctuations of absolute decoupling during economic recessions. No strong long-run relationships between socio-economic variables and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) generation for the CCT are found, however, in the short run it is deduced that population density is positively related to per capita MSW generation. The Think Twice waste minimisation programme, as a potential policy driver of MSW generation, is evaluated using a segmented linear regression. It is found that the Think Twice programme only has had temporal effects of reducing MSW generation, and that much of the reduction in MSW generation is rather explained by exogenous economic shocks, such as the 2008/2009 economic crash.

 
JEL Classification:

C01, C13, C32, F63, F64, G18, O44, Q51, Q56

Keywords:

Waste Kuznets Curve, Environmental Kuznets Curve, Decoupling, Waste Economics, Regression Analysis, Environmental Economics

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3 October 2022
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