I have published many articles arguing that industrial and inter-firm recycling was widespread before 1900 and overwhelmingly the result of market forces. Treating my papers to 2005, Frank Boons (2008) challenges those conclusions. He also criticizes me for neglecting structural, cultural, and political considerations. As a result, he suggests, my case on behalf of free enterprise as the preferred coordinating arrangement to stimulate inter-firm recycling is untenable. In this article I reply to Boons and treat related work by business historian Christine Meisner Rosen. I stand by my earlier claims and support them with additional evidence. I then provide short critiques of Boons’s other arguments, evidence, and interpretations.
Response to this article by Frank Boons: Freedom Versus Coercion in Industrial Ecology: Mind the Gap! (EJW, May 2012).
Response to this article by Christine Meisner Rosen: Fact Versus Conjecture in the History of Industrial Waste Utilization (EJW, May 2012).
Podcast related to this article: Pierre Desrochers on Freedom Versus Coercion in Industrial Ecology (EJW Audio, May 2012).