1 May 2023

Limitations of the circular economy concept in law

CirCus wheel

The Circular Supply Chains – identifying and allocating legal risks (CirCus) project, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, has had two recent publication successes.

Dr Katrien Steenmans together with Dr Feja Lesniewska (University College London, UK) published an article on the ‘Limitations of the Circular Economy Concept in Law and Policy’ in Frontiers in Sustainability. This builds on their recently published book, Circular Economy and the Law: Bringing Justice into the Frame, and identifies five fundamental limitations to existing circular economy laws: (1) unclear boundaries and scale, (2) oversimplification of goals, (3) side-lining of justice dimensions, (4) reinforcement of the status quo, and (5) unintended consequences. Based on these limitations, the article sets out four areas for future research to develop more effective circular economy laws. Doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/frsus.2023.1154059

In addition, Dr Katrien Steenmans and Prof Vibe Ulfbeck published an article on ‘Fostering the Circular Economy through Private Law: Perspectives form the Extended Producer Responsibility Concept’ in Resources, Conservation and Recycling. This perspective paper emphasizes the need for further research into private law dimensions of the circular economy, as currently public law dominates discussions on the legal landscape of the circular economy. Extended producer responsibility, a measure that shifts economic, physical, organizational, or informative responsibility or liability onto the product producer throughout a product’s life-cycle, is used as an example to demonstrate some of the critical issues that that private law can and needs to address. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2023.107016