Arnaud Paquet, MBA 24, wins top campus sustainability award

man wearing a suit jacket with arms crossed
Arnaud Paquet, MBA 24

For Arnaud Paquet, MBA 24, winning a top annual UC Berkeley sustainability award was the culmination of two years of climate leadership and sustainability initiatives on campus.

Paquet, one of four winners honored last month by the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS), received an impressive 16 nominations—including recommendations from former Berkeley Haas Dean Laura Tyson, Professor Severin Borenstein, who is faculty director of the Energy Institute at Haas, and Danner Doud-Martin, director of Haas Campus Sustainability.

Paquet has been “instrumental around everything at Haas that pertains to sustainability,” Doud-Martin said. “He is everywhere. He is always connecting with people, always talking to people. Everyone knows Arnaud.” 

“He is everywhere. He is always connecting with people, always talking to people. Everyone knows Arnaud.” – Danner Doud-Martin

Proof point: When Paquet attended the annual ClimateCAP conference two years ago as a Haas fellow, Doud-Martin said the organizers ran a contest to see who could track the most connections made during the conference on their phones. “He won the whole thing,” Doud-Martin said. 

Paquet, who grew up in Brussels and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in energy engineering, has spent his career working on the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. He came to Haas planning to make new connections and go deeper into solving climate change. 

One of his first moves was to join the Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative, (BERC), the largest on-campus organization that unites students, alumni, faculty, and industry leaders seeking to turn research toward solving energy and environmental problems. He quickly dove in, helping to organize their annual Energy Summit. Then, he took on the role of co-president, winning the Chancellor’s award, in part, for his work with BERC, which is entirely student-run and spans 11 colleges and 28 departments across UC Berkeley.

“BERC is special because it’s campuswide,” he said. “You can’t assume that climate change can be solved only through business. It’s going to be a cross-functional problem to solve. And so you need all disciplines—business policy, law, engineering, and so on.”

Paquet also spearheaded the inaugural Women in Climate event at UC Berkeley to create a platform for underrepresented members in BERC and the industry. Borenstein said Paquet showed a strong commitment to diversity by launching the conference, “giving diverse voices a platform in the climate crisis.”

seven people standing with Chancellor Carol Christ who is wearing a large scarf
Arnaud Paquet, third from left, with UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ, received the top UC Berkeley sustainability award last month, awarded by the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability (CACS).

Paquet, along with Angelina Donhoff, MBA 24, became the first co-vice president of Sustainability for the Haas MBA Association (MBAA). The pair, both members of the Haas Sustainability Task Force, helped create the new VP role by empowering fellow MBA students to vote for the change. 

Now, they are working with Doud-Martin on a grant-funded pilot program studying the climate cost of airline travel—using an MBA course that requires students to travel to Denmark as a study subject. Arnaud plans to write recommendations addressing the challenge of sourcing high-quality carbon offsets for air travel and the risk of greenwashing.  

He also served as a researcher and co-author for former Dean Tyson and venture capital firm Angeleno Group in a forthcoming article on innovations in climate finance for the California Management Review.

A startup plan

Outside of Haas, Paquet has worked for multiple Bay Area climate-focused startups, including Twelve and Granular Energy, the latter of which he still works part-time as a business development lead. After graduation, he plans to join a startup tackling the challenge of decarbonizing the hard-to-abate sectors, which account for a third of global carbon emissions. 

He said he’s enjoyed much of what makes Haas a unique place. “We have a lot of folks coming to Haas who are mission-driven and want to have a positive impact. And you will see a lot of students either starting their own company or going into climate tech, sustainability, and impact investing,” Paquet said. 

“It’s an exciting time for Haas. The school is launching a new MBA/MCS (master of climate solutions) degree with the Rausser College of Natural Resources and Haas is hosting ClimateCAP next year. I feel like UC Berkeley really prepared me well for what’s next, and I’m grateful for it.”

Laying Waste

The problem with e-waste

Pile of e-waste, like computers and circuit boards, in a landfill.E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing solid waste stream, and companies are struggling with a deluge of waste produced by their manufacturing processes and products. Some have been illegally exporting their e-waste—which may contain hazardous substances that need special treatment—or illegally dumping it closer to home.

In 2021, for example, Amazon was caught trashing some 130,000 unsold or returned items in a U.K. warehouse—including laptops, smart TVs, and other electronic devices—in one week. The company acted in line with financial incentives: Destroying these goods was cheaper than storing, repurposing, or recycling them.

These clashing incentives are causing waste processing systems to fall far short of best practices, according to research co-authored by Assistant Professor Sytske Wijnsma. The paper offers recommendations to help regulators improve ineffective laws.

Simulating waste streams

It’s estimated that 75% of e-waste globally is exported, typically from the EU or U.S. to developing countries, where disposal is less regulated. Only slightly over a third of the EU’s e-waste is properly handled.

Wijnsma and her colleagues constructed a model to simulate where waste typically leaks from the waste disposal chain, incorporating two key actors: a manufacturer producing waste and a treatment operator responsible for treating waste within a country.

Waste producers either generate high-quality waste—with resale value from its component parts—or low-quality waste, which is more hazardous and less valuable post-treatment.

Clashing incentives are causing waste processing systems to fall far short of best practices.

Typically, a treatment operator sets a price to manage a batch of waste without knowing whether it’s high or low quality.

The waste producer decides whether to contract with the treatment operator or to export it—legally or illegally, in which case it leaks from the system, often landing in developing countries where environmental regulations are spotty. Many countries prohibit low-quality waste export, while higher-quality waste export often remains legal.

Even if a producer contracts a local operator, proper treatment is not guaranteed. The operator might still opt to dump it illegally rather than disassemble it, immobilize hazardous substances, and recycle it for revenue. “If an operator thinks there’s a very high probability of only getting bad waste, then they might be more inclined to dump it.”

Addressing system breakdowns

The model highlights two key reasons the e-waste treatment chain breaks down. First, there are few if any consequences for waste producers when their contracted treatment operators violate regulations.

Second, current export policy focuses solely on prohibiting the export of low-quality waste. As such, waste with low post-treatment value is increasingly retained locally, causing treatment operators to raise the price of treatment. That, in turn, drives the more valuable waste to be sent abroad where treatment costs are lower. Consequently, local operators are left with primarily low-quality, unprofitable waste and have more incentive to dump it.

When it comes to policymaking, Wijnsma and her colleagues say that regulations that treat high- and low-quality waste dramatically differently create perverse incentives and are likely to backfire. The researchers also recommend holding waste producers partially responsible when their downstream waste is disposed of improperly.

Jenny Zhang, BS 09
ESG and Decarbonization Director, Urban Land Institute

After Jenny Zhang and her husband moved from the Bay Area to Hong Kong, it’s not surprising she eventually ended up in the real estate sector.

Headshot of Jenny Zhang.“There are three types of jobs in Hong Kong,” Zhang quips. “Finance, real estate, and financing real estate.”

She started out as a Deloitte M&A manager, analyzing deals totaling more than $12 billion. The job, she says, trained her to find patterns to quickly understand everything from animal vaccines to semiconductors. Zhang later launched a knowledge-sharing program to help colleagues become adept advisers across industries and markets in the shortest amount of time.

The work was exciting, Zhang says, but sustainability and climate change—topics that she explored at Haas—interested her more.

“At Haas, I was surrounded by people who felt passionate about social and environmental issues and who believed that we had the privilege and obligation to do something about them,” she says.

Zhang left Deloitte and was one of the first hires at climate-tech startup Carbonbase, working with energy and real estate companies to track their carbon emissions and to purchase carbon offsets. Yet, she wanted to do more.

In 2022, she joined the Urban Land Institute where she’s building a network of developers and investors, researching the ROI of sustainable buildings, and facilitating workshops to redesign industry practices.

Looking back, Zhang says her career path taught her that anyone can have an impactful career, no matter their role.

“My first boss at Macy’s had a quote up in his office that always stuck with me: ‘Bloom where you are planted,’” she says.

A Wealth of Talent

Haas alumnae help evolve finance in Asia.

Christina MA, MBA 01 (shown at top), found her way into finance serendipitously. As an undergrad at Georgetown University, she had planned on becoming a diplomat but changed her mind before graduation. All she knew when she earned her diploma was that she wanted an international career in a dynamic city bursting with opportunity. Given her language skills, Hong Kong seemed a good bet. This was the mid-1990s, and China was in a stage of dizzying economic growth as it opened itself to capitalism and foreign investment.

After three months of networking, she landed a role as a proprietary equity trader at an Asian bank, a career she’d never considered largely because it was such a male-dominated field. “I had visions of Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street, of big guys in suspenders and slicked-back hair,” she recalls.

Indeed, as a woman, Ma was in the extreme minority on the trading desk. For some long periods over the course of her career, she was one of only a handful of women on the trading floor and in an even greater minority as a senior female trading manager globally. While the finance industry has made strides toward gender parity since the mid-90s, it remains male-dominated. According to a 2022 report from Deloitte, 19% of C-suite roles within the world’s financial services institutions belong to women—but just 14% in Asia.

Like Ma, the Haas alumnae featured here are impacting their respective niches of Asian finance. They represent both seasoned executives and up-and-comers, speaking to how the Asian finance industry has evolved and what’s on the horizon from their respective perches. Whether it’s helping to bring ESG (environmental, social, and governance) to prominence, establishing a burgeoning venture-capital market, or pushing for gender parity, all of these women are finding ways to encourage the many transformations underway in Asian finance to redound to inclusion, sustainability, and equity.

Shifting culture

For her part, Ma resolved that structural gender disparities wouldn’t hold her back. “I try to spend my energy and time thinking about what I can change, instead of fretting about what I am not,” she says.

That outlook has led to great career success and satisfaction. After three years working as a proprietary trader and junior portfolio manager at a local fund, she left to get her MBA at Haas. Upon graduation, she returned to Hong Kong and spent over two decades climbing the ranks at Goldman Sachs, first as a trader then becoming a partner and ultimately heading up Goldman’s greater China equities business. Since then, Ma has moved to HSBC, where she’s now the head of global banking, Asia-Pacific, overseeing a team of more than 500 bankers covering some of the largest corporate and institutional clients in the world. 

As she’s traced this trajectory, Ma has strived to make finance more inclusive for both women and local talent. This has meant raising issues with her male colleagues they hadn’t come across before. When Ma was pregnant, for example, she had to work closely with her manager to develop her maternity leave plan—a first, since they had never had a senior trader go off on maternity leave.

“I hope that I have shown other women and men that you can succeed while being different from others and that the diversity of thought and style is valued and a good commercial decision.”

—Christina Ma, MBA 01

Fortunately, some key aspects of the culture around women at work have shifted since Ma was a young parent. The Chinese government has prioritized gender equality within its social development policies, and women there are moving closer to greater flexibility in their work hours, paid mental health leave, and longer maternity leaves.

Some economists argue that, across Asia more broadly, taking these types of steps to embrace women in the workforce will be crucial as the region’s population ages. A 2018 report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that improving women’s equality in the region could boost collective annual GDP by 12%.

Ma has been heartened by the finance industry’s increasing focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives, especially at the junior level, where incoming grad classes are often half women. But she acknowledges that diversity within finance’s senior leadership hasn’t evolved enough.

“I think there’s a realization that this is a much longer road,” Ma says.

Still, she believes that her journey and the efforts of others like her make an impact in important ways—one of them being the ripple effect of representation. “I hope that I have shown other women and men that you can succeed while being different from others and that the diversity of thought and style is valued and a good commercial decision,” Ma says.

Woman standing against a wall with brightly painted flowers on it.
Kin-Fun Lee, MFE 05, works at Julius Baer as head of strategy and business operations for the Markets & Wealth Management Solutions unit covering Asia.

Establishing the forefront

Kin-Fun Lee’s two-decade career in finance has afforded her a front-row seat to some of the most significant changes that have rippled through the industry in recent memory. In 2008, when the global financial crisis hastened a suite of regulatory changes across the region and world, Lee, MFE 05, was an executive director at J.P. Morgan in Hong Kong, overseeing business management and development for Asian equity derivatives and the prime brokerage businesses. During this time, she says, she was active in helping the firm weather a crisis unlike any seen in a generation. At the same time, she helped it contend with how new regulations—like the Dodd-Frank Act in the U.S. and what would become the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) in Europe—were changing the business.

As the dust settled, Lee felt pulled to help usher along some of the changes that these new regulations had seeded. “The main objective of the reforms post-crisis was to protect the end investor,” Lee says. “That got me started looking into a new area: I wondered how I could get closer to those end investors to see the real need and to provide solutions that really help them.”

“We’re seeing more sophisticated investors in some regions. They have a greater need for more complex, innovative, and bespoke products.”

—Kin-Fun Lee, MFE 05

She accepted an opportunity to do just that in 2013, decamping from her investment bank position for a job with the global wealth manager Julius Baer. As head of strategy and business operations for the Markets & Wealth Management Solutions unit covering Asia, Lee has been instrumental in developing and deploying new investment products. Her role involves assessing client demand, ensuring regulatory compliance, and aligning products with the bank’s infrastructure. For example, she and her team have been supporting the integration of new asset classes (e.g. digital assets) into traditional formats of financial instruments, like exchange-traded funds and structured products.

Anticipating what investors will need keeps Lee, her firm, and the industry on the cutting edge—an increasingly complex endeavor, she acknowledges, as some of the fast-developing Asian economies attract growing investor interest.

“We’re seeing more sophisticated investors in some regions,” Lee says. “They have a greater need for more complex, innovative, and bespoke products while at the same time fully complying with the regulators’ requirements.”

Lee predicts “continuous growth” in investor interest in Asia as a whole. As that interest continues to pour in, she sees another shift happening in terms of the investment products investors will need: “In the last generation, investors in Asia were more focused on wealth creation,” Lee says. “But now, it’s more to the stage of wealth preservation—and passing wealth along to the next generation.” Lee plans to play a central role in crafting the investment products they need to do just that.

Encouraging ESG

Anni Zhang, too, is out to update some of the ways the finance industry has done business in the past. Her focus, though, is on pushing the industry to factor in previously ignored environmental and social risks—and opportunities.

“I’ve been able to play a huge role by educating people. It can be uncomfortable for traditionally trained finance professionals to include ESG into their customary analytical framework.”

—Anni Zhang, BS 14

Zhang, BS 14, is an ESG associate for Asia-Pacific-focused private credit firm ADM Capital in Hong Kong—and, she explains, is “basically responsible for everything ESG-related day-to-day.”

Across the entire investment process—from deal sourcing to advising the investment team on the relevance of ESG factors to financial performance—Zhang is helping to ensure that environmental and social factors are taken into account. It also means creating ESG action plans for portfolio companies (which are all small- and medium-sized enterprises in Asia) and working those plans into their loan covenants. And it involves monitoring and reporting on borrowers’ ESG performance.

A woman wearing a cropped jacked, mini skirt, and tall boots walking toward the camera. Her reflection shows in the glass wall next to her.
Anni Zhang, BS 14, is an ESG associate for Asia-Pacific-focused private credit firm ADM Capital.

ADM’s founders were pro-ESG at the outset, Zhang says, and in her two years with the firm (in addition to two years with its foundation arm) she’s pounced on the opportunity to push its ESG practices to the forefront of the industry.

“I’ve been able to play a huge role by educating people,” she says. “It can be uncomfortable for traditionally trained finance professionals to include ESG into their customary analytical framework. Over time, though, I’ve seen a change in mindset with our deal teams and with the broader industry. ESG is now a key competitive advantage of ADM.”

Zhang doubled-majored at Berkeley in business and conservation and resource studies, a dual focus that she says has been instrumental in helping her to reconcile the perspectives of both finance teams and sustainability experts. In Asia, bridging these perspectives will prove increasingly critical, she says. Not only are regulations and disclosure requirements pertaining to sustainability developing quickly—but the health of the region (not to mention the planet) may depend on it.

“I see a bigger opportunity for ESG here in Asia because there are so many underdeveloped cities and economies, so there’s a lot more opportunity to do good and contribute to their development in a way that’s sustainable,” Zhang says. “There’s also incredible nature and biodiversity here. So much is at stake.”

Advancing developing economies

In the most developed parts of Asia, many of the movers and shakers within the finance industry are rooted in—and most familiar with—the region’s major financial hubs, like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore. Not so for Tab Boonthaveepat, MFE 11, an executive director and trader at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong covering Asian emerging markets—and she considers this distinction one of her great assets.

Boonthaveepat traces her roots to Bangkok, where she grew up and began her career (after earning her MFE at Haas) as a quantitative portfolio manager at hedge fund Phatra Securities.

A woman in gray suit coat and white shirt standing with her arm resting on a railing.
Tab Boonthaveepat, MFE 11, is an executive director and trader at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong covering Asian emerging markets.

The many economies across Asia represent a vast diversity in their stages of development, Boonthaveepat points out. Beyond the major financial hubs, other countries, like Vietnam and Indonesia, are emerging, and the rapidly growing Indian economy is somewhere in between. Thanks in part to her background and work experience in Thailand, Boonthaveepat is deeply invested in understanding (and explaining to others) how each of these markets presents investors with its own constraints—and opportunities.

“I always want to make sure that I’m helping these small markets have a chance in the global arena.”

—Tab Boonthaveepat, MFE 11

“Emerging markets in Asia are changing,” Boonthaveepat says. “And I think especially since the pandemic, we’re seeing more interest from global investors in India and also in some of the small Southeast Asian markets.”

She’s committed to connecting this growing interest from global investors to the markets that could benefit from their capital. “I always want to make sure that I’m helping these small markets have a chance in the global arena,” Boonthaveepat says. “That’s something I’m very proud of.”

Tracking what’s next

Aparna Chaganty, MBA 23, is also interested in bringing Asia’s investment opportunities to the world, and she’s working to do so within India’s burgeoning venture capital industry. “VC, as you see it today, was simply not prevalent in India 25–30 years ago,” says Chaganty, an investor based at the Bangalore office of global VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners. “There were not enough startups to create an ecosystem for multiple large VCs to come and play here.”

“It’s an incredibly dynamic market we’re in right now, and I want to leverage my Silicon Valley experience to help Indian startups compete and win on a global stage.”

—Aparna Chaganty, MBA 23

Chaganty’s work involves meeting founders who are launching India-born startups angling for a global audience. Thanks to the rate of Asia’s—and especially India’s—economic growth, she says the opportunities to be found in the region today are unique. Pair Asia’s growth with Chaganty’s industry focus on software—which is also evolving dramatically due to the development of AI—and you get “a very special point in time to be part of this industry,” Chaganty says.

A woman in a white suit sitting in a chair in a glass office next to a computer. Outside are trees.
Aparna Chaganty, MBA 23, works as an investor based at the Bangalore office of global VC firm Bessemer Venture Partners. Photo: Harshith Dambekodi.

“With the advent of AI, the market is on the precipice of a transformation,” she says. For one thing, small, lean startups are able to command more scale and revenue because of the power of their underlying software. At the same time, their business models face the challenge of having to find ways to continue driving value, even as the underlying software rapidly evolves. “It’s an incredibly dynamic market we’re in right now, and I want to leverage my Silicon Valley experience to help Indian startups compete and win on a global stage.”

Chaganty extends an invitation to her fellow Haas alumnae to join her on the exciting ride. Like many other parts of finance, the VC industry is still male-dominated, and Chaganty believes it could benefit from the perspectives of more women.

What’s more, she believes such a dynamic market is likely to beget a dynamic career. “Riding the wave of the special moment we’re in here can also mean a lot of learning and personal growth as well,” Chaganty says. “That’s the bet I made.”

Pushing Boundaries

Berkeley Haas’ commitment to educating future-oriented leaders demands a constant evolution of our teaching and research. Here, we highlight two new research centers whose work will keep Haas at the forefront of behavioral economics and drive positive healthcare innovations. As well, we feature a new climate solutions dual-degree program and a new fund-based class to prepare students to lead the transition to a more sustainable future.

Leading the Next Wave of Behavioral Economics

By Laura Counts & Mickey Butts

Illustration of a wave made with grids and webs meant to symbolize technology. Dots of various colors spill over the wave.Ever since future Nobel laureates George Akerlof and Daniel Kahneman created a 1987 UC Berkeley course that broke the barrier between psychology and economics, the university has led the way in bringing these disciplines together into the field of behavioral economics.

In the ensuing years, psychology-based behavioral economics has explored the predictable foibles in our thinking, such as decision-making biases, fears of losing out, lack of self-control, and overconfidence. A classic example is Kahneman’s pioneering work with Amos Tversky on loss aversion, which showed that people are willing to take greater risks to avoid a loss than to secure a gain.

Now Haas is poised to lead the next wave, pushing the field beyond psychology and gleaning insights from disciplines as diverse as neuroscience, biology, and medicine with the launch last fall of the Robert G. and Sue Douthit O’Donnell Center for Behavioral Economics.

“Humans are living, breathing organisms affected by their unique life paths,” says Professor Ulrike Malmendier, the O’Donnell Center’s founding faculty director. “We have minds and bodies, and an economic science that describes human behavior needs to account for both.”

Thanks to a philanthropic investment of almost $17 million by Bob O’Donnell, BS 65, MBA 66, and his wife, Sue O’Donnell, the center will advance the next generation of research, extend learning opportunities to students, and position Haas as the preeminent hub for the field. Malmendier aims to bring in leading researchers from a wide range of disciplines for collaboration, conferences, and bootcamps—beyond what has been considered part of the field. The center will also provide fellowships to PhD students and postdoctoral scholars and will host the prestigious Behavioral Economics Annual Meeting (BEAM), co-founded by Malmendier, every three years.

Bob, BS 65, MBA 66 (right), and Sue O’Donnell seated on a bench.
Bob, BS 65, MBA 66, and Sue O’Donnell look forward to the interdisciplinary opportunities the new O’Donnell Center for Behavioral Economics will create for researchers and students alike. “UC Berkeley is dedicated to integrating business education with other disciplines on campus, which is essential in this area,” Bob says. “It should have a center devoted to continuing this work.”

Students will benefit from a curriculum enriched by the foremost thinkers in the field. In early April, for example, the O’Donnell Center co-sponsored a fireside chat with economist and Nobel Laureate Richard Thaler and New York Times writer David Leonhardt. Malmendier has also initiated a weekly reading group with faculty, PhD students, and post-docs to discuss the latest behavioral economics research. Such discussions will deepen the knowledge faculty bring to the classroom. And because of the interdisciplinary nature of the O’Donnell Center, the teaching of behavioral economics and finance will expand to students campuswide.

Breaking new ground

Malmendier’s goal is to open a new frontier in research that will help business leaders and policy makers. “We went from neoclassical economics that considered humans to be perfectly rational to behavioral economics that brought in social psychology,” explains Malmendier, the Cora Jane Flood Professor of Finance.

For example, after Nobelist Thaler and Cass Sunstein developed the concept of the “nudge”—interventions that spur people to act in their own self-interest, such as enrolling them in a retirement savings plan by default—hundreds of “nudge units” were established in governmental and private-sector organizations around the world. Just last spring, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine called for increased collaboration between behavioral economists and policymakers in part to encourage people to make better decisions.

“Now we want to move the needle further, bringing together the best minds for rigorous research on human behavior from the sciences more broadly, including neuroscience, cognitive science, biology, medicine, epidemiology, and genetics,” Malmendier says.

Pioneering collaborations

For her part, Malmendier will expand her groundbreaking work on “experience effects,” which earned her a Fischer Black Prize in 2013 for the top economist under the age of 40—the only woman to ever win the prize—and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017. She has studied how stressful experiences with recessions, layoffs, inflation, housing bubbles, and political repression make consumer and investor behavior more cautious and risk averse for years afterward. She’s also explored how stress can affect our health, careers, education, and other aspects of life in dramatic ways.

Now, she aims to further that work by collaborating with neuroscientists, neuropsychiatrists, biologists, medical researchers, and epidemiologists who have studied stress and trauma—insights that could more precisely demonstrate how past experiences shape our actions, such as completing an education, choosing an occupation, and deciding to have a family, today and across generations.

“As we walk through life, our outlook on the world changes, especially if we suffer trauma,” she says. “Neuroscience says our brain gets rewired. There may be a long-term impact of stress on our longevity, on our aging, and on our health.”

In addition to Malmendier, the center will include a host of affiliated researchers from Haas and Berkeley Economics and elsewhere across the university. They include center co-founder Stefano DellaVigna, professor of economics and business; Haas professors Ricardo Perez-Truglia, Ned Augenblick, Don Moore, and Gautam Rao, PhD 14 (who recently joined Haas from Harvard University); as well as Dmitry Taubinsky of Berkeley Economics, and others.

“We want to move the needle further, bringing together the best minds for rigorous research on human behavior from the sciences more broadly, including neuroscience, cognitive science, biology, medicine, epidemiology, and genetics.”

—Prof. Ulrike Malmendier

Shaping transformative leaders

Founding donor Bob O’Donnell says he was inspired by the interdisciplinary promise of behavioral economics at Haas. “UC Berkeley is dedicated to integrating business education with other disciplines on campus, which is essential in this area,” he says. “It should have a center devoted to continuing this work.”

O’Donnell, a retired portfolio manager for a large mutual fund group, often applied insights from behavioral economics during his career. “When combined with existing financial theory, I believe that its insights enhanced results for my clients,” he says.

Yet, during the 17 years O’Donnell taught an investment class in the Berkeley Haas MBA program, he says he sometimes encountered skepticism when introducing ideas from the field. “Indeed, one student asked, ‘Isn’t all this kind of woo-woo?’” he says. “Several years later, that student told me how perspectives from behavioral economics had helped her career in finance.”

O’Donnell envisions his endowed gift as one that will not only define the future of behavioral economics but shape truly transformative leaders. Founding the center, he says, is a start but more investment is needed to enhance curricular offerings and expand the groundbreaking research that will be the hallmark of the O’Donnell Center.

Malmendier is passionate about the potential of behavioral economics to help leaders create better solutions to the most complex and urgent problems of our time, like battling inflation. “If leaders keep in mind people’s emotions, their personal histories, and their psychologies,” Malmendier says, “they can engineer ways to make things more predictable and give people more control over events to help them live better lives. That is our ultimate goal.”

Harnessing AI to Transform Healthcare Outcomes

By Amy Marcott and Laura Counts

Silhouette of the side of a person with a brain illustrated with swirling and intersecting lines and balls meant to represent technology. The person is looking at a butterfly made with the same swirling lines and balls.The U.S. spends almost 20% of its gross domestic product on healthcare—more than any other high-income country. Yet we see a low return on that investment: Americans have poor outcomes across numerous dimensions, including life expectancy.

A big factor in these poor outcomes is a healthcare system that resists easy remedies, says Haas Professor Jonathan Kolstad. Promising innovations and technologies are often dead on arrival due to lack of understanding of the incentives at play.

“There’s a big gap between the kinds of AI and machine learning tools that are being built for healthcare and the realities of the healthcare delivery system, including the complex incentives, how the system functions, who would buy the product, and who would use it,” he says. “Conversely, the healthcare system is behind in terms of the technology, the systems, and the adoption of new AI tools. Right now, there’s a unique opportunity to play massive catch-up.”

The new Center for Healthcare Marketplace Innovation (CHMI), a joint endeavor between Haas and Berkeley’s new College of Computing, Data Science, and Society, aims to bridge that gap with solutions that join AI and data science with behavioral economics and an understanding of the realities of the healthcare system and the vagaries of human behavior.

Launched this spring with a gift from an anonymous donor, the CHMI combines technology development and academic research, giving researchers and partners access to a massive database of healthcare data. In fact, CHMI is believed to be the first applied research center of its kind to merge data, behavioral economics, and artificial intelligence with a focus on technology incubation.

Applied behavioral economics

Previous approaches to healthcare innovation are often too simplistic, Kolstad says, while other technologies have simply aimed to replace doctors. “These are some of the smartest and most highly trained humans making lots of different decisions under complex situations—which machines simply cannot do,” he says. “It’s the interaction of technology and human decision-making where AI is going to meet the market in healthcare.”

Take, for example, helping a radiologist better identify cancer. To do so successfully, Kolstad says, requires understanding the realities of how radiologists work, what they try to do, when cancer is spotted, who’s being screened, what data are available with the right pictures, and even how they’re paid. “All of those layers are critical,” he says.

Kolstad is building a database that he hopes will be one of the largest multimodal healthcare data platforms in the world. This rich data will include health insurance claims as well as medical records, images, electrocardiogram waveforms, and other granular information all linked to longitudinal health outcomes. The platform will be available for both research and R&D. “We want to structure it so that you can use the data to learn and create new insights but also create new solutions that really meet patients where they are,” Kolstad says.

“It’s the interaction of technology and human decision-making where AI is going to meet the market in healthcare.”

—Prof. Jonathan Kolstad

In addition to this novel data platform, CHMI will also offer academic and industry partnerships to facilitate the development of new AI and technology solutions grounded in real-world problems; the incubation of new companies; and academic research on AI, behavioral economics, and economic incentives. The interdisciplinary center will work with researchers throughout UC Berkeley and at UCSF.

The importance of incentives

What’s key to success, Kolstad says, is working within the constraints of a complex, market-driven healthcare system bolstered by governmental incentives. “At the end of the day, you have to understand the incentives in order to create solutions that are going to get to scale and change things,” he says. “We’re facilitating what we think will make that system more effective, more productive, and more efficient, which will lead to better health at a lower cost.” Kolstad himself has done this with the launch of a new company, Healthpilot, to help improve Medicare (see sidebar, “Haas Research Fuels Company Benefiting Medicare Patients”).

“My strong hope for CHMI is that there will be novel technologies that will be positioned to create new startups, nonprofits, or open-source solutions,” says Kolstad, the Henry J. Kaiser Chair. He’s forming relationships with venture funds, big insurers, and government agencies keen to see CHMI innovations—executives who can collapse the time it typically takes to run a pilot and scale. “We’re here to actually change things,” Kolstad says.

Doubling Down on Sustainability

By Kim Girard and Laura Counts

I\illustration of a person hoeing a ground made up of swirling, intersecting lines meant to represent technology. The handle of the hoe transforms into branches with flowers at the end.

Since Dean Ann Harrison assumed leadership of Haas five years ago, she has made sustainability a strategic priority for the school, working to ensure that students are trained to view leadership challenges with a sustainability lens. Undergrads can now minor in sustainability, MBA core courses are being revamped to incorporate thinking about climate change and other sustainability challenges, and Haas launched the Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, to name just a few offerings.

Now, MBA students wishing to deepen their training in the field have two new opportunities available to them: a dual-degree option and a pioneering Climate Solutions Fund class.

Master’s degree in business and climate solutions

Haas and Berkeley’s Rausser College of Natural Resources recently launched the concurrent MBA/Master of Climate Solutions to prepare the next generation of sustainability and climate leaders. The new program, enrolling for fall 2024, will allow students to earn a master’s degree in both business and climate solutions in five semesters, one more than is typically required for the full-time MBA.

Dean Harrison says the degree will teach critical skills and knowledge in climate data science, carbon accounting, and lifecycle analysis as well as technological and nature-based solutions. “Future business leaders will require a depth of training in both business and climate change to work across disciplines and execute competitive strategies,” she says. “This new program will provide a breadth of skill sets, equipping our grads to lead in building a sustainable, low-carbon future.”

Students in the MBA/MCS cohort will spend the first year at Haas completing MBA core coursework—which includes courses in leadership, marketing, management, finance, data analysis, ethics, and macroeconomics, along with sustainability courses—before moving to classes at Rausser.  The MCS core curriculum includes climate and environmental sciences; climate economics and policies; technological, business, and nature-based solutions; training in analytical and quantitative skills; and applied exercises and engagements that emphasize adaptive thinking and problem-solving. MCS courses will translate the fundamental science and groundbreaking discoveries of UC Berkeley experts, enabling professionals to learn how to evaluate technologies, develop just climate strategies, and remove barriers to implementing practical climate solutions.

“Future business leaders will require a depth of training in both business and climate change to work across disciplines and execute competitive strategies.”

—Haas Dean Ann Harrison

Michele de Nevers, executive director of Haas’ Office of Sustainability and Climate Change, says the dual-degree’s focus on early-career professionals promises quick dividends. “These professional students are clearly positioned to make an immediate impact and will serve a critical role as translators of academic insights and enacting these insights in the world,” she says.

All MBA/MCS students will participate in a semester-long capstone program that gives them the opportunity to partner with organizations operating across the business, government, and nonprofit sectors. A unique leadership course on organizational, political, and societal change for climate solutions will prepare students to be change agents anywhere they work. Students will also complete two summer internships, which will allow for deep immersion in different disciplines and more time to build relationships.

James Sallee, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and faculty director of the MCS program, says that while new research on climate solutions is still critical, many of the things needed to address the climate challenge are already known. “What we really need are people spread throughout society and the economy who are in a position to take action on climate and who are equipped with the tools to make the right choices. Educating those students is the vision of the MCS program,” he says.

New Climate Solutions Fund

Financing the climate transition requires a diverse and technical tool kit: An estimated $4 trillion to $5 trillion per year will be needed to reshape global energy, transportation, food, and waste infrastructure and to help companies reinvent supply chains and integrate new technologies, says Professor Adair Morse.

To equip future leaders with the financial know-how to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, Haas is launching the student-led Climate Solutions Fund in fall 2024—the first such course at a major business school.

MBA students in the course will serve as investment managers for the $2.37 million fund, learning how to structure financing in complex private markets by investing in real-world deals focused on solutions to climate change.

It was conceived of by Morse, co-founder of the Sustainable and Impact Finance Center (SAIF). “As the world moves toward a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need financial leaders with the skills to navigate the economic revolution we are facing,” she says. “This economic revolution will be staggeringly disruptive yet will also be a source of more business opportunities across all parts of the country than we’ve seen in 250 years.”

The Climate Solutions Fund curriculum will teach students new designs and uses of finance not traditionally taught in mainstream finance courses, including public-private partnerships with federal and state programs, identifying the underlying technologies to fuel the low-carbon transition, and envisioning new financial products. Morse saw the need for this financial expertise while serving as deputy assistant secretary of capital access in the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2021 to 2023.

“As the world moves toward a goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, we need financial leaders with the skills to navigate the economic revolution we are facing.”

—Prof. Adair Morse

“This level of reinvestment [in the climate transition] will require every finance tool available, including designing financial structures to mobilize government programs and work with community and industry partners,” she says. “Our goal is to expand how we teach students to provide the leadership and expertise that corporations, financial entities, startups, governments, and philanthropies will need to navigate this transition.”

Students in the course will assess investment opportunities in U.S.–based for-profit companies, working with outside investment partners to structure deals. Following a pitch competition, student managers will select one finalist to co-invest $100,000 to $300,000 annually. The fund is intended to generate positive returns over time so that future students can build off the capital.

The Climate Solutions Fund was made possible by a lead gift from Allan Holt, MBA 76, along with generous founding donations from Larry Johnson, BS 72; Charlie Michaels, BS 78, and his wife, Doris; Scott Pinkus; and Professor Laura D. Tyson, former Haas dean and co-founder of SAIF.

Corporate sustainability reporting will move forward despite uncertainty, experts say

Viviana Alvarez Sanchez, former head of sustainability for Unilever North America, moderates the opening panel at the CFRM conference.

With the Securities and Exchange Commission’s long-awaited climate-disclosure rules blocked by litigation, public companies will continue to operate with a patchwork of laws and standards on sustainability reporting for the near future. 

But the consensus among the investors, corporate sustainability officers, accountants, CFOs, and standard setters who gathered at Haas in March was that markets have already moved,  with thousands of companies already disclosing information about their carbon emissions and climate risk exposures. In fact, many public and private companies are subject to new reporting regulations in California and the European Union, and investor pressure for increased transparency on climate risk disclosures and other sustainability issues will only continue. 

“We’re in a time of regulatory and macroeconomic uncertainty, but that does not mean corporate sustainability reporting is not marching forward,” said Professor Panos N. Patatoukas in his opening remarks at the CFRM 27th Conference on Financial Reporting. “What we measure is what we treasure. My hope is that improved measurement will lead to more efficient allocation of capital in society, which could, hopefully, accelerate the transition to a more sustainable economy.”

Professor Panos N. Patatoukas, faculty director of the Center of Financial Reporting Management (CFRM) and co-faculty director of the Sustainable and Impact Finance Initiative at Berkeley Haas.

The March 20 conference, organized by the Center for Financial Reporting and Management, was titled “Corporate Sustainability Measurement & Reporting: From Whether, to How.” It was co-hosted by the Sustainable & Impact Finance (SAIF) initiative. 

Former Haas dean and Professor Laura Tyson, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and a senior advisor to SAIF, gave opening remarks that stressed the importance of consistency for both companies and investors. 

 “This is incredibly important and it’s all happening right now,” Tyson said. 

Laura D. Tyson, professor of the graduate school and former Berkeley Haas dean

Tyson noted that in the United States, the discussion tends to be about actions that companies take that may have a financial consequence for investors—known as financial materiality. While materiality is the focus of the SEC’s proposed rules, it’s just one part of the discussion, she noted: The second part is non material items that may be important to society or shareholders.

“We have had for a very long time, organizing our financial markets, a set of acceptable standards for traditional financial measures,” Tyson said. “Every firm has to apply them. Every accounting firm has to make sure firms apply them. We need something like that in the standards for sustainability. I think we’ll get there, but Europe may get there before us.”

 The company perspective

The first panel of the day focused on companies’ perspective, featuring Joe Allanson of Salesforce, Claire Boland of Joby Aviation, R. Paul Herman, CEO of impact investing firm HIP Investor, Sydney Lindquest, ESG director for energy services company SLB, and Douglas Sabo, former chief sustainability officer for Visa.

“Concerns by society quickly turn into shareholder concerns,” Allanson, Salesforce’s EVP of Finance ESG, noted. 

One effect of the increased focus on sustainability disclosure is that accountants have had to move outside their traditional silos, communicating across companies more widely. He joked that the array of new rules from the SEC, California, and the EU amounts to a “full employment act for accountants.”

Assurance and verification

A panel on assurance included (from left to right) Anita Chan of KPMG, Marie Hache, ESG Partner at PwC, Deloitte Partner Laura McCracken, Mallory Thomas of Baker Tilly, and (not pictured) Trip Borstel of EY. They emphasized the importance of building trust through reporting that is relevant, reliable, and verifiable. 

The panelists emphasized the need to restore trust with a global baseline of corporate sustainability reporting that uses standardized measurements and definitions. 

“We’ve been on a journey, and the next five-to-eight years are going to be really interesting in terms of what happens with the SEC rules and the legal issues,” McCracken said.

Chan echoed Patatoukas’ remarks: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

The panel discussion also highlighted the need for corporations to develop processes, incentives, and governance mechanisms that integrate traditional financial reporting with sustainability reporting.  

Andy Behar, CEO of As You Sow (above left), served as moderator. “Hope is not a strategy. We are starting to get action,” he said. 

Setting standards

Berkeley Law Professor Stavros Gadinis moderated a discussion on standard setting that included Verity Chegar of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), former U.S. Department of Energy advisor Kate Gordon, and Katie Schmitz Eulitt, of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation.

Despite the fear that we’ll end up with separate sustainability reporting standards—imposed by the SEC, the EU, and California—the panelists agreed that convergence on reporting standards is in everyone’s interest.  

“This is a global issue that doesn’t happen within boundaries,” said Gordon, who served as senior advisor to both U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “There does need to be consistency for companies since they can’t parse the different rules.

Asked why climate risks should be singled out in audit reports above other risks—such as cyber threats or policy changes—Gordon emphasized that “climate risk is different because the risks are known, and they are predictable. They are already in the atmosphere from things we did 50 years ago or more.”

Even the election outcome won’t likely turn back the movement toward more disclosure, Schmitz Eulitt said. “Let’s just inhabit a world where the climate rule gets thrown out. My instinct is that if it’s a material issue, you have to disclose it. Investors are asking for it,” she said.

Gordon (center), with Chegar (left) and Schmitz Eulitt (right)

Investors’ perspective

The last panel of the day focused on the investors’ perspective and included Nuveen Senior Director Anthony Mark Garcia, Jonathan Hudacko, MBA 01, personal investing principal at Vanguard, Jamie Nulph, MSCI’s executive director of climate and sustainability, Anne Simpson, Franklin Templeton’s global head of ESG, and State Street’s Karen Wong, global head of ESG investing.  Patatoukas served as moderator.

Patatoukas emphasized that “climate risk, which includes both physical risks from environmental changes and transition risks related to moving towards a lower-carbon economy, is increasingly acknowledged as a significant investment risk.”

Wong said reporting standards are critical as more investors ask to incorporate sustainability metrics explicitly into their portfolios. “We have some investors who really care about climate change risk,” she said. “I think it’s important to provide a choice for investors. It’s their money, not ours.”

Asked about the strategy of divestment versus engagement, Simpson, who also teaches MBA, MFE and undergraduate classes at Haas, encouraged students who want change to embrace the complexity of the moment. “If you want to feel pure, roll up your sleeves and walk away,” she said. “If you want real change, you have to roll your sleeves up and get involved.”

Meredith Albion, FTMBA24 (right), worked for a credit ratings firm before attending Haas. She has focused much of her time at Haas on sustainable investing. She is currently a student principal of the Haas Sustainable Investment Fund and is a member of the SAIF Student Advisory Board.

Berkeley Haas to host 2025 ClimateCAP Summit

two women with their arms folded. They're smiling
From L-R: Dean Ann Harrison and Executive Director of Sustainability Michele de Nevers.

Berkeley Haas has been chosen to host the prestigious 2025 Global MBA Summit on Climate, Capital and Business, or ClimateCAP, which prepares MBA students and business leaders to understand and respond to the business and investment impacts of climate change.

Haas was named host school during the 2024 ClimateCAP Summit held last month at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. At that event, the largest summit to date, Haas Dean Ann Harrison participated in a virtual Dean’s Roundtable on Climate and Business Education.

Asked by Professor Stuart Hart, a visiting lecturer at Michigan Ross, whether sustainability is “here to stay” or “something that you don’t want to bet the company on,” Harrison said:

“Business has to accelerate the transition to net zero. It has to reckon with the impact of climate change and shift away from fossil fuels. That is not a fad, it is not niche, and it is clearly, in my opinion, going to be a part of the business curriculum now and way into the future.”

“Business has to accelerate the transition to net zero. It has to reckon with the impact of climate change and shift away from fossil fuels. That is not a fad, it is not niche, and it is clearly, in my opinion, going to be a part of the business curriculum now and way into the future.” – Dean Ann Harrison

With more than 41 partner schools across the world, ClimateCAP hosts a summit every year at a different partner school. The event will bring up to 500 MBA students and business leaders from across the world to the campus for one weekend. 

woman standing at podium at conference with a large screen behind her
Haas was named the 2025 ClimateCAP host during the 2024 summit at Michigan Ross.

“We are so pleased that Berkeley Haas has been chosen to host ClimateCAP next spring,” said Michele de Nevers, executive director of the Office of Sustainability and Climate Change at Haas. “The conference will provide a terrific opportunity to bring hundreds of climate leaders to our campus to showcase Haas and California’s leadership on climate change.”

ClimateCAP aims to give students a deeper understanding of markets with the biggest financial and operational risks due to the climate crisis, and introduces them to promising innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities, de Nevers said.

The Office of Sustainability and Climate Change will organize the event alongside a planning committee consisting of faculty, staff, and students.


As e-waste streams grow, regulations are backfiring, study finds

A broken cell phone lies in a collection container for hazardous materials at a waste sorting facility in Germany. (Photo: Jens B’ttner/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

E-waste is the world’s fastest-growing solid waste stream, and companies are struggling with a deluge of waste produced by their manufacturing processes and products. Some have been illegally exporting their e-waste—which may contain hazardous substances that need special treatment—or illegally dumping it in landfills closer to home.

In 2021, for example, Amazon was caught destroying some 130,000 unsold items in a U.K. warehouse over the course of one week. Among the trashed merchandise were smart TVs, laptops, drones, hairdryers, computer drives, and other electronic devices.

The company acted in line with financial incentives: It was cheaper to destroy these goods than store, repurpose, or properly recycle them.

Yet recovering useful materials like precious metals from discarded electronics can reduce mining and forest degradation. It can also allow many jurisdictions to reduce their dependence on raw materials imports from other countries.

These clashing incentives are causing waste processing systems to fall far short of best practices, according to a new paper co-authored by Assistant Professor Sytske Wijnsma and published in the journal Management Science. She and her fellow researchers—Dominique Olié Lauga of University of Cambridge and L. Beril Toktay of the Georgia Institute of Technology—considered the impacts of various policy interventions on waste treatment and disposal, and offered practical recommendations to help regulators better align incentives and improve ineffective laws.

“Research on these systems is important because they are highly complex and not very transparent,” Wijnsma says. “Often, well-intended policy interventions can backfire.”

Simulating waste streams

It’s estimated that 75% of e-waste globally is exported, typically from the EU or the U.S. to developing countries, where recycling is less regulated. Only slightly over a third of e-waste in the EU is handled in line with waste regulations.

To simulate the confounding dynamics within waste processing chains, Wijnsma and her colleagues constructed a model. They drew from real-life scenarios shared with Wijnsma by Europol, the European law enforcement agency responsible for recommending and enforcing several waste management policies in the EU. The model was intended to shed more light on where in the waste chain incentives are misaligned and at which stages waste can leak from the system through local dumping or export to developing countries.

The simulated waste chain contains two key actors: a manufacturer producing waste and a treatment operator responsible for undertaking waste treatment within a country.

Within the model, waste producers are either the sort that generate high-quality waste—which can create more revenue for the treatment operators because of the high resale value of its component parts—or low-quality waste, which comes with higher hazard levels and lower revenue post-treatment.

The simulated waste chain ferries waste producers and waste treatment operators through three stages, representing a common real-world progression. First, a treatment operator sets a price a treat a batch of waste from a producer. Importantly, the operator doesn’t necessarily know whether the waste will be of high or low quality—which has significant repercussions. If the quality is likely to be low, the operator can’t count on recouping any resale value and would want to charge a higher price to treat it. On the other hand, if the quality is expected to be high, the operator could charge a lower price to process and treat it because they will recoup some value.

Next, the waste producer considers the quoted price and decides whether to contract with the treatment operator or to export the waste—either legally or legally. Currently, many regulations prohibit the export of low-quality waste, while the export of higher-quality waste often remains legal. As a result, exporting high-quality waste is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, while exporting lower-quality junk requires an expensive and risky circumnavigation of laws. Most of the electronic waste currently leaks from the system through export.

Finally, if a treatment operator has been contracted, it can opt to either treat the waste or dump it illegally. The difficulty in that decision lies in the fact that treatment operators typically have to quote a price while the contents of the batch of waste are still mysterious to them.

“You can imagine that operators get containers full of waste and don’t necessarily know the exact quality,” Wijnsma says. “They could sort the waste, immobilize hazardous substances, and recover as much valuable materials as possible, but this is not a profitable endeavor if the waste turns out to be of low-quality.” The decision thus largely depends on a best guess, based on past experiences and market dynamics, Wijnsma explains: “If an operator thinks there’s a very high probability of only getting bad waste, they could be less inclined to properly treat it.”

Addressing system breakdowns

The model highlights two key reasons the waste treatment chain breaks down.

  • First, it’s relatively easy for treatment operators to receive payment for treating waste while in fact dumping it—an example of moral hazard, i.e., when an actor faces little or no potential consequence for unwanted behavior.
  • Second, export policy has focused primarily on only prohibiting the export of low-quality waste. This can create situations in which the more valuable, high-quality waste is sent abroad, where treatment is cheaper. The result is that local recycling programs and treatment operators are left with mostly low-quality waste, which creates cascading effects. Operators have a greater incentive to dump the waste they receive since it’s very likely not profitable to treat.

Wijnsma and her colleagues formulated this second dynamic into one of their key recommendations: Regulations that treat high- and low-quality waste dramatically differently are likely to backfire. She calls this pattern the “waste haven effect,” wherein waste exports tend to flow to the countries where regulations and costs are lowest.

“Because of that, there’s been a large focus on trying to even out regulations between countries,” Wijnsma explains. A similar phenomenon occurs when regulations focus on low-quality waste and leave high-quality waste unregulated. “If you strengthen regulations for one waste category too much compared to another, then you also create perverse incentives.”

Another of the research team’s policy recommendations seeks to address the moral hazard problem by holding waste producers responsible when their downstream waste is disposed of improperly.

Notably, new laws in the EU and some U.S. states are trying to enforce that very shift. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations place responsibility for the proper management of post-use products that contain hazardous materials with the producers that made them. In practice, this has required producers to simply contract with treatment operators to deal with their waste. But Wijnsma says that the paper’s findings suggest the laws should go even further.

“A still-nascent practice…is fining the manufacturers when they contract with treatment operators who are found to be engaged in dumping,” Wijnsma says. In other words, producers must be held accountable for not only contracting with a treatment operator, but for contracting with a trustworthy one. “Our results support expanding regulations where the producer can be held (partially) responsible for downstream violations,” she says.

Read the paper:  

Treat, Dump, or Export? How Domestic and International Waste Management Policies Shape Waste Chain Outcomes
By Sytske Wijnsma, Dominique Olié Lauga, and L. Beril Toktay
Management Science, December 2023