New Governance for Circular Economy:Policy, Regulation and Market Contexts for Resource Recovery from Waste

Purnell, Phil and Velenturf, Anne A.P. and Marshall, Rachel (2019) New Governance for Circular Economy:Policy, Regulation and Market Contexts for Resource Recovery from Waste. In: Resource Recovery from Wastes. RSC Green Chemistry . Royal Society of Chemistry, London, pp. 395-422. ISBN 9781788013819

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This chapter discusses the impacts of policy and regulations on resource recovery from waste (RRfW) as part of a transition towards a circular economy (CE). It presents the motivations for achieving CE as expressed by government and commercial stakeholders, the general and specific benefits of RRfW in the economic, environmental and social domains, and the role of policy and regulation in preventing or overcoming barriers to achieving RRfW and CE. Policy needs to break through the short-term economic concerns that dominate the sector, ensure that ‘downstream’ processes shift focus to include RRfW as well as environmental protection, and encourage ‘upstream’ processes (particularly product design) to prioritise reuse or refurbishment and recovery of value (via extended producer responsibility). Conflict among regulations is a serious impediment, e.g. where materials cross national boundaries or processes combine both waste treatment and resource recovery sub-processes. Multiple actors all along the supply chain need to combine to implement RRfW. Data collection for material flows needs to be standardised and include social and technical metrics, not just metrics for environmental protection and economic cost–benefit analyses. RRfW infrastructure investment is ill-suited to achieving CE, almost exclusively focussed as it is on energy recovery from waste over processes further up the waste hierarchy. Fundamentally, the current policies, regulations and agencies charged with promoting RRfW and CE have evolved from their mission to protect public health and the environment and are not fit for purpose. Governments must establish agencies charged with resource management, stewardship and productivity if the purported benefits of CE are to be realised.

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29 Apr 2019 16:25
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17 Sep 2023 04:04