Guest editorial

Date12 October 2020
Publication Date12 October 2020
AuthorKatrien Steenmans,Rosalind Malcolm,Alison Clarke
SubjectProperty management & built environment,Building & construction,Building & construction law,Real estate & property,Property law
Guest editorial
The concept of a circular economy (CE) has no universally agreed denition but generally
encompasses the notions of waste prevention or alternatively reusing, recycling or recovering
wastes and resources to achieve sustainable development (Kirchherr et al.,2017). CE practices
and approaches have been around in some form since indigenous times (Gregson et al., 2015;
Greenwood et al., 2018;Kosoe et al., 2019), but explicitly labelled CE objectives have only
recently gained traction with law makers and policymakers and in the private, public and third
sectors (Geissdoerfer et al., 2017). The challenge lies in facilitating transitions to achieve such
aims. To this end, interactions of property law with CE approaches is one key area to explore
further, as property rights can be key inuential components that can facilitate CE transitions
by inuencing resource and waste management.
This special issue presents selected papers presented at the Rethinking Property
Approaches in Resources for the Circular Economy Conference hosted at Coventry
University on 21 June 2019 and funded by a Society of Legal Scholars Small Projects and
Events Fund award. The aim of this conference was to begin bridging knowledge gaps in
effecting CE transitions and the kind of property systems that can promote and sustain
them. The starting point was thatwe need to (re)evaluate and (re)conguretraditional issues
about the nature and distribution of property rights, which in turn might require a
reconceptualisation of wastes and resources. The special issue articles provide a
springboard for identifying the wide array of issues relating to the knowledge gaps
warranting furtherexploration and examination.
The rst article, ZhaosChina in Transitiontowards a Circular Economy: From Policy to
Practice, examines one of the seminal examples in which CE objectives are legislated. It
investigates the development of top-down approaches to the implementation of different
manifestations of CEs focused predominantly on business and commercial wastes. Central
to the current approaches of such private sector entities to circularity are issues of control
and value, as investigated by Thomas in Waste, Marginal Property Practices, and the
Circular Economy. Thomas uses freeganism as a lens for investigating marginal property
practices to conclude that corporate control of down-stream goods is necessary to achieve
CE policy aims. In contrast, Steenmans and Malcolm in Transitioning towards Circular
Systems: Property Rights in Waste argue that alternative property regimes could facilitate
wider implementation of circularity. They argue that current European Union waste law
favours classic forms of privateownership, which tend towards commodication and linear
systems, but lacks the disruptive force needed to facilitate widespread CEs. Challenges of
current predominant property systems are identied by Ahuja, Dawson and Lee within a
particular context in A Circular Economy forElectric Vehicle Batteries: Driving the Change.
Their analysis provides a potential solution within the context of ElectricVehicle Batteries
through proposing a new servitisation-based ownership model,with the batteries remaining
the property of and in the stewardship of the manufacturer. The nal paper then
demonstrates how the value of CE is not constrained to the traditionalway in which the
limited literature so far exploresproperty rights in relation to CE. Instead of approaching it
from the perspective of what property rights can do for CE, Bottomley in Propertys
Competing Values: The Public House Recycled as a Community Asset examines how the
image of CE can help understand the holding of community assets, with the focus on public
Guest editorial
Journalof Property, Planning and
Vol.12 No. 3, 2020
pp. 185-186
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JPPEL-09-2020-064

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