Seeing Beyond Repackaged 'Rubbish Laws': Conceptual Challenges to Designing Circular Economy Laws

  • Feja Lesniewska (Speaker)
  • Katrien Steenmans (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Circular economy laws aim is to generate a shift away from linear product-to-waste approaches and instead promote the reuse, recycling, and recovery of resource and waste streams in order to achieve both economic prosperity and environmental protection. Economic law research to date has focused primarily on the technical and managerial complexities to deliver a circular economy throughout global value supply chains for specific sectors. Despite techno-economic innovation occurring within specific sectors, insufficient attention has been paid to equity and justice dimensions involved in transforming economies from a linear to a circular model.

This paper presents analysis of two transnational case studies from the (plastics) waste and forestry sectors to see beyond repackaged ‘rubbish laws’. In each case study we identify the conceptual challenges to designing circular economy law. We highlight how circular economy law, in both design and practice, is building on and perpetuating existing asymmetries of power within linear global supply chain resource cycles. We conclude that marginalised peoples constituencies, within each resource cycle are rendered invisible by the powerful techno-economic knowledge production processes underpinning circular economy laws design and practice. To see beyond repackaged ‘rubbish laws’ we propose an environmental rights based analytical framework to evaluate circular economy legal models.
Period7 Nov 2019
Event titleThe IEL Collective Inaugural Conference: Disrupting Narratives and Pluralising Engagement in International Economic Law Scholarship, Teaching and Practice
Event typeConference
LocationCoventry, United KingdomShow on map