Towards a Circular Economy for Products: A legal analysis of Europe’s policy and regulatory framework from an ecological perspective
AbstractThe concept of ‘Circular Economy’ (CE) has gained a great deal of attention in the last five years and has become the new all-encompassing notion for sustainable public policies. There is to date no commonly agreed definition of the CE, and it is one of the goals of this thesis to propose one. A starting point for characterizing it might be in opposition to the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ economic model that has dominated economic thinking since the Industrial Revolution and whereby the environment is an open space in which humanity can draw resources infinitely and discharge unlimited amount of waste. The CE developed in particular as a way to counter the dramatic environmental consequences of the ensuing ‘throwaway society’ based on the mass production of low quality products for the purpose of rapid consumption and disposal. The aim of this thesis is to explore the basis for a legal framework for the CE that can guarantee a sustainable future for humanity; one in which products contribute to social and economic prosperity without threatening the nine planetary boundaries that form the safe space in which humanity can prosper. The thesis is article-based and hence composed of an Extended summary (kappe) and five articles: On the one hand, the Extended summary is meant to contextualize the topic: how and why did the linear model develop? What are the ecological movement and the proponents of circularity proposing – and how do they differ in their arguments? What are the main features of a legal framework based on an ecological paradigm? What does a shift to ecological law entail for the EU and its product policy? On the other hand, the purpose of the articles is to examine more specifically how the CE is regulated in the EU and how EU law could and should evolve to promote an ecologically based CE. The articles discuss: - the meaning and different use of life-cycle thinking in EU product policy (article 1), - the strengths and shortcomings of the EU Action Plan for the CE (article 2), - the different ways of regulating durability and reparability at EU and national level (using examples from France and Norway) (article 3), - the limitations of EU waste law in preventing environmental damage from products (article 4), and - the role of the law in changing consumption patterns (article 5).
List of papers
|Article 1. Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore. "Towards an integrated product regulatory framework based on life-cycle thinking". In The Greening of European Business under EU Law. Taking Article 11 TFEU Seriously, ed. Sjåfjell, Beate; Wiesbrock, Anja, 144-162. Abingdon: Routledge, 2015. An author version of the article is included in the thesis, the published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315767864|
|Article 2. Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore. "Exploring the spaceship Earth: a circular economy for products". In Preventing Environmental Damage from Products An Analysis of the Policy and Regulatory Framework in Europe, ed. Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore, Dalhammar, Carl, Bugge, Hans Christian, 23-56. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. An author version of the article is included in the thesis, the published version is available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108500128.002|
|Article 3. Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore, Dalhammar, Carl. "Regulating Planned Obsolescence: A Review of Legal Approaches to Increase Product Durability and Reparability in Europe". Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law (RECIEL) 2016, 25(3) (17 November 2016): 378-394. The published version of the article is included in the thesis, and is also available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/reel.12182|
|Article 4. Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore. "New roles for producers in the Circular Economy: Extending 'Extended Producer Responsibility'". 2019. To be published. The article is removed from the thesis in DUO awaiting publishing.|
|Article 5. Maitre-Ekern, Eléonore, Dalhammar, Carl. "Towards a hierarchy of consumption behaviour in the circular economy". Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law (MJ) 2019, 26(3) (1 July 2019): 394-420. The published version of the article is included in the thesis, and is also available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1023263X19840943|