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To export, or dispose of garbage on your own? #0569
Updated: 9/8/00 OS/platforms(s): All Versions: All

Contributor/author(s): Teoh Ren Jie

Face it, none of us here find incinerators a pleasant sight in our cities. Oftentimes players have considered the exporting of garbage to neighbors in place of disposing them through incinerators, but are afraid to try it out due to the fear of incurring higher expenditures. But, from recent "experimentations", I have concluded otherwise:

  1. For large enough cities, it is more economical to export garbage to neighbors than to dispose of them on their own:
  2. Building of incinerators bring about opportunity and social costs of pollution, and of useful land (they take up a hell lot of space).
  3. If any anti-pollution ordinances are enacted, there'll be a large expenditure spent on physically cleaning up the pollution.
  4. Maintenance of the garbage infrastructure do throw in monetary costs too! And in the long run, often you'll have to shell out money to replace aging incinerators.
  5. By exporting garbage, though you still have to pay, you actually forgo the aforementioned costs, so eventually you pay less! Above all, you have freed up useful land for development purposes!

Why is this so? Though I have no resources to provide concrete mathematical figures, most of these come under the economic theory of costs and production in the long run.

Despite the fact that such city services are government owned natural monopolies (industries solely owned by the government that produces necessities e.g. water, electricity etc.), that in economic theory, enjoy economies of scale over a very large output (i.e. level of production), in SC3K that has somehow a certain threshold.


In the long run, above a certain population level (which determines the number of incinerators and the amount of garbage burnt) such natural monopolies may start experiencing dis-economies of scale when it has to increase its output beyond optimum production level (or the minimum efficient scale) just to cater to the large population. Hence it is wiser to export garbage, at relatively lower costs.

For smaller cities, exporting garbage is unwise, for revenue may not be enough to cover up the total expenditure. Smaller cities can still increase the size of garbage disposal and experience economies of scale.

From experiences, the MES for the "garbage natural monopoly" occurs when the city's population may be well on 1.4 million and above; 1 million is not not enough. Hence a 'large-enough' city is this case should have a residential population of at least 1.4 million.

Lastly, this can also apply to water and power supply in your city. But due to their nature of more efficient costs compared to garbage disposal, producing them on your own or buying them from neighbors would make only a slight cost difference. So the only cost of producing them on your own comes from the opportunity cost of wastage of useful land. Perhaps, if you consider to totally import both water and power, together with garbage exportation you may eventually incur higher costs.

See also
Making the most of neighbor deals
Making successful neighbor deals
Rotating landfills
Water buildings & garbage facilities: which to build

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