Preventing environmental effects of products: A life cycle and market-oriented approach in European environmental law

The project aims at acquiring knowledge in product regulation in EU environmental law. Based on the idea of looking at the entire life cycle approach of products and providing incentives to market actors, the project intends to discuss the effectiveness and coherence of three main sets of measures: extended producer responsibility, ecodesign and public procurement.

About the project

The environmental consequences of mass production and consumption of our society are significant and increasingly worrying. The lack of a coherent vision to regulating damages from products hinders effective reduction and prevention thereof. A life cycle approach to products is one of the keys to addressing this problem. Environmental legislation could minimise damages from products by taking into account the overall impacts of those products in an integrated manner, hence identifying the most effective and economic measures possible and avoiding mere burden shifting.

Moreover, it appears clearly that negative effects of products on the environment represent a major type of ‘market failure’ and that the field needs regulating. Yet, the in-house knowledge and ability of producers should be recognised and some flexibility granted to them in addressing those negative impacts. Environmental regulation needs to focus on providing the incentives through the use of adequate market-based legal instruments.

This project aims at finding out how various EU legislative acts integrate a life cycle approach and whether they provide for incentives to producers for improving the overall environmental impact of their products. A particular focus is put on the EU Ecodesign, Public Procurement, Waste Framework, and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directives.


Product’s life cycle – incentives – EU product law – EU waste law – ecodesign requirements – public procurement – extended producer responsibility


Tags: Environmental Law and Economics, environmental policy-making
Published June 25, 2012 3:36 PM - Last modified Apr. 20, 2015 9:28 AM