The transition towards a circular economy is central to global sustainability objectives. These objectives include the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals, with its target to substantially reduce waste generation by 2030 through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse, and the European green deal, which sets out a strategy to transform the EU economy in line with its ambitions to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, in particular by mobilising industry efforts for a clean and circular economy (https://sdgs.un.org/goals; https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_19_6691; https://ec.europa.eu/info/publications/communication-european-green-deal_en).
National governments are also increasingly looking to regulate production processes in order to encourage the private sector to design out waste within their value chains.
While related policy objectives and regulatory developments are abundant, the legal implications of this fundamental shift within production and consumption processes have faced little scrutiny to date. This article sets out key legal considerations for businesses in the private sector that are engaged in the journey towards circularity and examines, in particular:
- The concept of the circular economy, the various business models that can help to achieve circularity and current industry practices in the field.
- The legal risks and consequences associated with the adoption of circular business models.
- The regulatory landscape relating to the circular economy, both in the EU and the UK.
This article first appeared in the August 2021 issue of PLC Magazine: http://uk.practicallaw.com/resources/uk-publications/plc-magazine