Waste—the circular economy
Produced in partnership with Dr Ken Westlake of Westlake Associates
Waste—the circular economy

The following Environment guidance note Produced in partnership with Dr Ken Westlake of Westlake Associates provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Waste—the circular economy
  • Brexit impact
  • Meaning of a ‘circular economy’
  • Origins of the concept
  • Principles of the circular economy
  • Phases of the circular economy
  • Policy and legislative developments
  • Key Developments
  • Implementation in the outermost regions of Europe
  • Implementation in the UK

Brexit impact

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this content.

For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—impact on environmental law and News Analysis: Brexit Bulletin—key updates, research tips and resources.

Meaning of a ‘circular economy’

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) defines a circular economy as ‘an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life’.

The concept is one that recognises the inherent value of wastes and views them as resources rather than materials to be disposed of. By bringing wastes back into use, either through re-use, recycling or recovery operations, then the impact of resource use upon the environment is significantly reduced because, among other considerations, the environmental impact associated with raw material mining and processing is eliminated. For further information on the waste hierarchy and waste recovery, see Practice Notes: Meaning of waste—waste hierarchy and Meaning of waste—recovery operations.

This approach is consistent