Legal Landscape of Circular Supply Chains
Circular Supply Chains – identifying and allocating legal risks (CirCus)
A transition to a circular economy has become an important policy goal. CirCus analyses the extent to which the concept of circularity affects the legal distribution of risks in the supply chains and whether circular supply chains call for new liability standards and new collaborative contract models.
Liability standards and contracts are fundamental building blocks for the distribution of risks in supply chains. However, current liability and contract law reflect in their most basic principles not a circular, but a linear reality. In a circular contract law, courts will be challenged when applying basic quality and product safety concepts as ‘fitness for purpose’ and ‘legitimate expectations’ because of the multipurpose nature of the products on the market. Finally, the idea of the circular supply chain challenges the most basic understanding in contract and liability law of clearly separated risks spheres between the parties as long term collaboration and transparency between the parties will increasingly become necessary in order to understand the needs of the entire chain. CirCus focuses on the described challenges in three case studies.
This postdoc project is part of the Circular Supply Chains – identifying and allocating legal risks (CirCus) project, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. Within the context of the waste and resource crises, there are increasing calls to transition to a circular economy, in which wastes are prevented or, where not possible, waste and resources are reused, recycled, and recovered for the purpose of sustainable development. Many mechanisms exist in law to promote circular economies. This postdoc focuses on one such mechanism: extended producer responsibility, where the producer of a product is responsible for it throughout its life-cycle. The overarching aim of the postdoc is to investigate the legal risks of adopting producer responsibility (including through ownership) and liability within private law and waste law to promote circular economies within the EU context. For this purpose, this research will: (1) assess the current legal risks context of producer responsibility and liability; (2) identify the impact of identified legal risks in relation to circular economy transitions and implementations; and (3) propose recommendations for the use of producer responsibility and liability to stimulate moves towards a circular economy. This project adopts a three-step user-centric, co-productive process to ensure usefulness of any insights to relevant stakeholders: a desk-based scoping review to map legal risks, a survey to triangulate, validate, and expand on the scoping review, and semi-structured interviews to provide insights on the risks and recommendations.
This project aims to establish ongoing collaborative research between the Universities of Edinburgh and Copenhagen on the regulatory transition to a circular economy. In particular, this project examines: How may a legal framework for circular economy need to differ from existing regulatory frameworks on waste? Is a change in emphasis or substantive transformation of legal tools and techniques needed? This will be achieved through two aims: first, the project will analyse Danish and Scottish case studies (textile, plastics, satellites) to identify existing legal tools for facilitating circular economies. Second, the project will develop a comparative legal approach to review, compare, and contrast the appropriateness and effectiveness of circular economy regulation in Denmark and Scotland. The two countries have similarities (strong commitment to sustainability, population size, level of development, reliance on technological expertise and the rule of experts) and variations (EU/non-EU, implementation of distinct recyclability targets) that make them rich sites for interpretive analysis and meaningful comparison.
This project is funded by the Edinburgh-Copenhagen Strategic Partnership Seed Fund awarded to Dr Michael Picard at Edinburgh Law School, The University of Edinburgh, and Dr Katrien Steenmans, CEPRI. Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen.