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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Transnational waste law and circular economy (LAWS11508)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course reviews the transnational, European and domestic laws organizing the prevention, the recovery and the recycling of wastes, as they relate to the transition to a Circular Economy (reduce, re-use, and recycle). This course consolidates students, prior knowledge of international law by focusing on the overlapping regimes and jurisdictions governing waste-to-resources.
Course description Circular Economy policies impact trade and global supply chains, requiring transnational coordination across jurisdictions. The course will therefore review the rules and institutions regulating the production, the reduction, the (re)distribution, and reintegration of wastes into global circuits.

To illustrate the transition to the Circular Economy, students will be introduced to a series of case studies on 'among others' fast fashion and recyclable textiles, the global plastics trade, intellectual property and the right to repair, and the regulation of orbital space debris. Among other sources of law, attention will be given to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, China's 14th Five Year plan, the EU Circular Economy Action Plan, the EU Sustainable Products Initiative, the Irish Circular Economy and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2022, and Net Zero Scotland.

The format of class teaching includes full class discussion and break out small groups where overall class size may be up to 40 students.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) This course is assessed by the following assessment components:

Participation in class discussions (30%);
4,500-word essay (70%).

How will coursework and other assessed work be spread throughout the course?

Weeks 2 to 10: students evaluated in class participation based on compulsory reading
End of term: final essay
Feedback Students will receive feedback on one non-graded oral presentation and one written draft of their commentary on an assigned text.

Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
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 regimes, and current issues of international waste law (oral + written assessment).
  2. Write rigorous legal analysis based on a critical understanding of international waste law (written assessment).
  3. Perfect oral communication skills by fully engaging in seminar discussions (based on prior compulsory reading) and presenting in front of classmates (oral assessment).
  4. Exercise academic autonomy and time management (deliver assessments according to deadlines).
  5. Demonstrate a knowledge of the hierarchy of sources using primary and secondary materials, and demonstrate the ability to articulate their meaning (oral + written).
Reading List
Core case law and treaties will be available from online databases.
Legal documents

Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, 1673 UNTS 126 1989

BC-14/12: Amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Basel Convention

Technical guidelines on transboundary movements of electrical and electronic waste and used electrical and electronic equipment, in particular regarding the distinction between waste and non-waste under the Basel Convention (E-waste) (10 July 2015) UNEP/CHW.14/7/Add.6/Rev.1, adopted May 2019.

Council Directive 2012/19/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2012 on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) [2012] OJL 197/38.

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/2174 of 19 October 2020 amending Annexes IC, III, IIIA, IV, V, VII and VIII to Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on shipments of waste

Case law

ICSID Metaclad CASE No. ARB(AF)/97/1 of 30 August 2000
LJN: BN 2149, Amsterdam Court, 13/846003-06 (Trafigura case)
ECJ, Openbaar Ministerie v Tronex BV, 4 July 2019 (Case C-624/17)


Circular Economy and the Law (Routledge 2023)
Discard Studies: Wasting, Systems, and Power (MIT 2022)
The Right to Repair (CUP 2021)
Research Handbook on Law, Governance and Planetary Boundaries ( (Edward Elgar, 2021).
Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade (Bloomsbury 2013)
The Campo Indian Landfill War: The Search for Gold in California¿s Garbage (Oklahoma University Press, 2009)
Made to Break (Harvard UP, 2006)

Articles (short selection)

Barrie, Jack, et al. ¿The role of international trade in realizing an inclusive circular economy¿, Chatham House 2022.

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

Kyriakopoulos, Grigorios L. ¿Environmental legislation in European and international contexts: legal practices and social planning toward the circular economy.¿ Laws 10.1 (2021): 3.

van Ewijk, Stijn, and Julia A. Stegemann. ¿Recognising waste use potential to achieve a circular economy.¿ Waste Management 105 (2020): 1-7.

Corvellec, Hervé, Alison F. Stowell, and Nils Johansson. (2021) ¿Critiques of the circular economy.¿ Journal of Industrial Ecology.

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.

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

Jacometti, Valentina (2019). ¿Circular Economy and Waste in the Fashion Industry¿. Laws 8(4), p 27.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Knowledge and understanding

* A knowledge of the rules, institutions, and principles governing transboundary waste law and the circular economy;
* An understanding of the importance of sound waste management practices in protecting human rights and the environment;
* An understanding of the relationship between circular economy targets and climate change law and environmental law

2. Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Research and Enquiry

* Experience of identifying the key legal issues on transboundary waste law and the circular economy, and interpreting the key legal sources relevant to them;
* Experience of the legal techniques used to mitigate transboundary waste pollution and protect human rights and the environment.

3. Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal and Intellectual Autonomy

* Critical legal skills and awareness of sustainability issues;
* Opportunities to take initiatives on campus in developing awareness of growing waste production;
* Experience of working across disciplines.

4. Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Communication

* Experience of synthesizing readings, articulating concepts and legal techniques;
* Experience of team building with interactive class participation;
* Experience of defending and articulating complex ideas and arguments in legal writing

5. Graduate Attributes: Skills and abilities in Personal Effectiveness

* Experience of working with students from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds through teamwork and negotiation;
* Experience of effective time management to achieve pre-established goals.

6. Technical/practical skills

* Experience of analysing case law on transboundary waste trade.
Additional Class Delivery Information The course will be delivered in ten seminars which may include the following:

Reducing the transboundary movement of hazardous electronic waste through circularity
Extended Producer Responsibility in the Textile industry
Intellectual Property Rights vs the Right To Repair
Hazardous space debris mitigation
Regimes of circular design: the transition to low carbon reprocessed steel in Scotland
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Michael Picard
Course secretaryMs Susanna Wickes
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