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Setting standards for a circular economy: A challenge too far for neoliberal environmental governance?

Flynn, Andrew and Hacking, Nick 2019. Setting standards for a circular economy: A challenge too far for neoliberal environmental governance? Journal of Cleaner Production 212 , pp. 1256-1267. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.11.257
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Abstract

National and regional governments around the world are steering actors in the waste and resources management industry towards a more circular economy (CE). Such a hoped-for transition is set against a backdrop of neoliberal environmental governance. The private sector increasingly delivers outcomes via public-private initiatives. Similarly, voluntary quality assurance standards covering flows of waste and resources around the globe are increasingly central to markets and trade. The role of standards in contemporary environmental governance is critically reassessed by examining how they are involved in the upscaling or down-scaling of markets. This analysis matters to understanding how the CE is conceptualised at a range of scales and how neoliberal environmental governance can help or hinder CE development. To overcome the paucity of data on how and why public and private sector actors set and use voluntary standards for material flows, twenty-eight key actor interviews with those involved in standard setting and the CE in Europe are drawn upon. Results suggest that proponents of standards and the CE see the raising of the quality of recycled material as central to building up confidence and trust in existing and emerging markets. However, others suggest markets will always privilege cost over quality and that standards are peripheral. For the CE transition to accelerate, this research suggests that policy instruments like standards need to challenge existing neoliberal market relations rather than simply follow them.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0959-6526
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 December 2018
Date of Acceptance: 27 November 2018
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2019 10:32
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/117305

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