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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Waste Law and the Circular Economy (fusion on-site) (EFIE11157)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryVarious types of waste are increasingly given value by law to ensure a transition to the circular economy and to combat the issues of pollution and waste. The course examines the complex regulatory frameworks needed to organise the conversion of effluence (waste) into affluence (wealth). From textiles made of recycled plastics to biodiversity conservation born out of decommissioned oil rigs, waste is being reimagined as a carrier of future abundance. This course explores these legal transformations of waste laws through a series of case studies and interactive activities.
Course description This course focuses on the ways governments can regulate waste management to achieve their circular economy objectives. The course illuminates the 'charismatic' objects of the circular economy 'taxonomy' and uses recent case studies and regulations to support the course material, such as the recyclability of lithium-ion batteries in an EU transition towards electrification of transportation and the UK taxation on virgin plastic production to increase recycling rates in the food distribution sector.

This course follows the 'object-oriented approach' to draw attention to the legal architecture of the circular economy: how the circular economy can be developed, regulated and authorised through its objects and representations. This course asks you to consider: how do these objects reveal, or perhaps mask, the aims of the circular economy, and what do they tell us about the political motivations behind the circular economy policies currently in place around the world?

Your learning experience will include:
- An interdisciplinary approach to law (law & economy, law & geography, law & biophysical sciences)
- The use of object-oriented methodology
- A simulation of negotiation of an international treaty

Students do not need any previous experience in studying law to take this course.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - On-Site Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities.

Students should be aware that:
- Classrooms used in this course will have additional technology in place: students might not be able to sit in areas away from microphones or outside the field of view of all cameras.
- Unless the lecturer or tutor indicates otherwise you should assume the session is being recorded.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 9, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Other Study Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 80 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 6
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Feedback Formative feedback will be given after the group presentations on their treaty negotiation progress.

Summative feedback will be given on the Assessment 1 and Assessment 2.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the principles and current issues of transboundary waste law and the circular economy.
  2. Demonstrate originality and creativity in the development and application of new knowledge, understanding and practices.
  3. Understand how to engage effectively in a multilateral governance forum.
  4. Collaborate with others to bring about new thinking in waste law and circular economy.
  5. Communicate waste law ideas to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.
Reading List

(Selected chapters from): Wheeler, Michael. (2013) The art of negotiation: How to improvise agreement in a chaotic world. Simon and Schuster.

(Selected chapters from): Thomas, Mark, and Lucy Cradduck. (2019) The art of mooting: Theories, principles and practice. Edward Elgar Publishing.

(Selected chapters from): Lesniewska, Feja & Katrien Steenmans. (2023) Circular Economy and the Law - Bringing Justice into the Frame, Routledge.

(Treaty) Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal.

United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme Draft resolution 'End plastic pollution: Towards an international legally binding Instrument', UNEP/EA.5/L.23/Rev.1, 2 March 2022.

Hoernig, Julia (2022) 'Towards 'secondary raw material' as a legal category. Environmental Law Review. Env. L. Rev. 2022, 24(2), 111-1.

Basel Action Network. (2019) 'Holes in the Circular Economy: WEEE Leakage from Europe - A Report of the e-Trash Transparency Project', BAN, Geneva.

European Environment Agency. (2021) 'Plastics, the circular economy and Europe's environment ' A priority for action', Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Thomas, Sean. (2019) 'Law and the circular economy'. Journal of Business Law. (1). pp. 62-83.


Meghan Spillane. (2008) International Moot Court: An Introduction, International Bar Association.

Minter, Adam. (2015) Junkyard planet: Travels in the billion-dollar trash trade. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2015.

Zurbrügg, C. 'Managing waste at the national and local levels'. The Routledge Handbook of Waste, Resources and the Circular Economy. Eds. T. Tudor & C. Dutra. Routledge.

European Environment Agency, (2018) 'Waste prevention in Europe ' policies, status and trends in reuse in 2017', EEA Report.

(Treaty) UNFCC Paris Agreement (2015)

Select chapters from: The Routledge Handbook of Waste, Resources and the Circular Economy. Eds. T. Tudor & C. Dutra. Routledge.
- Ch16, Mahon, P. 'The role of policy in creating a more circular economy'
- Ch18, Sheeran, P. 'Economic and trade considerations of circular economy approaches.'

Velis C. (2017) Waste pickers in Global South: Informal recycling sector in a circular economy era. Waste Management & Research. 35(4):329-331.

Selected chapters from: De Sadeleer, Nicolas (2020) Environmental principles: from political slogans to legal rules. Oxford University Press.

Further Readings:

Perzanowski, Aaron. (2022) The Right to Repair: Reclaiming the Things We Own. Cambridge University Press.

Friant et al. (2021) 'Analysing European Union circular economy policies: words versus actions', 2021 Sustainable Production and Consumption Vol. 27, pp. 337-353.

Wishart, Lucy & Jan Bebbington. (2020) 'Zero waste governance: a Scottish case study.' International Journal of Sustainable Development 23.1-2: 128-147.

Anantharaman, Manisha. (2021) 'Reclaiming the Circular Economy: Informal Work and Grassroots Power.' The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Politics, OUP.

Corvellec, Hervé, Alison F. Stowell, and Nils Johansson. (2021) 'Critiques of the circular economy.' Journal of Industrial Ecology.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry (independent research):
- Conduct research and enquiry into relevant circular economy and waste law issues.

Personal Effectiveness (team working):
- An ability to work collaboratively with people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.

Communication (written):
- Be able to communicate complex ideas and arguments in writing.

Research & Enquiry (problem solving):
- Identify and evaluate options in order to solve complex problems

Research & Enquiry (problem solving):
- Identify and evaluate circular economy opportunities in waste law in order to solve complex waste problems.
KeywordsCircular Economy,Waste Law,International Law,Policy,EFI,PG,Level 11
Course organiserDr Michael Picard
Course secretaryMiss Veronica Silvestre
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