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Commodification of Waste: Legal and Theoretical Approaches to Industrial Symbiosis as Part of a Circular Economy

19 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2017 Last revised: 14 Jun 2017

Katrien Steenmans

University of Surrey - Environmental Regulatory Research Group

Rosalind Malcolm

Professor; School of Law, University of Surrey

Jane Marriott

University of Surrey

Date Written: June 9, 2017

Abstract

Waste can be conceived as pollution or a resource; pollution in relation to the vast amounts of waste produced that need to be managed, while a resource in that waste can be used as the virgin material in production processes. In both cases, waste is currently most commonly treated as an economic good and thus commodified as a result of approaching the ownership of goods from a Blackstonian absolute dominion perspective. In this paper we present a critique of this classic form of property ownership as it aids linear cradle to grave approaches to waste. In advocating a move towards circular systems for using waste, we propose the adopting of a Lockean conception of property. For this purpose we address three issues: (1) current property rights in waste; (2) alternative approaches to waste; and (3) impacts of applying Locke’s theory. First, we address when an object becomes classified as waste, who owns waste and when ownership changes hands. In discussing the latter, a critique of the classic forms of property ownership that support linear approaches is presented. Secondly, we investigate appropriate property regimes to address these critiques, namely extended producer responsibility and common-pool resource approaches. Finally, the seminal example of industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg, Denmark, is used to provide context for discussions using Locke’s property theory on the feasibility and implications of our property rights discussions and recommendations. Industrial symbiosis is a structure where waste is exchanged between industries within a given network or grouping forming micro-circular economies. In this symbiotic network, waste is thus diverted from landfill and other forms of disposal, thereby lessening the impact of the waste stream on the environment and the economy.

Keywords: property rights, waste, industrial symbiosis, common-pool resources

Suggested Citation

Steenmans, Katrien and Malcolm, Rosalind and Marriott, Jane, Commodification of Waste: Legal and Theoretical Approaches to Industrial Symbiosis as Part of a Circular Economy (June 9, 2017). University of Oslo Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2017-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2983631

Katrien Steenmans (Contact Author)

University of Surrey - Environmental Regulatory Research Group ( email )

United Kingdom

Rosalind Malcolm

School of Law, University of Surrey ( email )

Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
United Kingdom

Professor ( email )

United Kingdom

Jane Marriott

University of Surrey ( email )

Guildford
Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.surrey.ac.uk

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