Towards a Circular Economy for Products: A legal analysis of Europe’s policy to prevent environmental damage

This doctoral thesis looks at the concept of circular economy and what it means to put such a model in place through Europe’s product and waste policies and laws.

Eléonore Maitre-Ekern Foto: UiO

About the project

This project aims at confronting the limits of the throwaway society and exploring the path towards more sustainable production and consumption. Today, consumer products cause extensive damage to the environment throughout their life cycle. Eléonore Maitre-Ekern argues that the linear economic model, which consists in producing products from primary raw materials, consuming them and finally disposing them as waste must be replaced by a circular model in which materials continuously flow through the economy to close the loop of resources. The thesis puts forward enabling conditions to achieve the Circular Economy for products.

The Circular Economy necessitates a change of paradigm in the way the economy works, which must be accompanied by an adequate legal framework. The complexity of the topic means that not one law can regulate everything, but rather a set of laws (or policy mix). In Europe, a number of policies and laws have been put in place that may contribute to such a change. For example, the Ecodesign Directive adopted by the European Union imposes design requirements for specific product groups, including energy efficiency, resources use and durability requirements. In France, planning for the obsolescence of products constitutes, since 2015, an offence subject to criminal prosecution. The Swedish Ministry of Environment and Energy recommends introducing tax deductions to encourage households that choose to rent or repair consumer products or resell second-hand products.

In her thesis, Eléonore explores the different paths to regulating the Circular Economy and discusses the strengths, weaknesses and gaps of the existing policy and legal framework.


The thesis is to be submitted by the end of 2018.

Published Oct. 3, 2017 9:06 AM - Last modified Oct. 3, 2017 9:15 AM