Publication in the Journal Sustainability

Postdoctoral fellow Mark Taylor from the Department of Private Law and Associate professor Maja van der Velden from DIGENT have recently published in the Journal Sustainability. Entitled “Resistance to Regulation: Failing Sustainability in Product Lifecycles”, the paper is an outcome of the project Sustainable Market Actors and Responsible Trade (SMART Project), coordinated by the Law Faculty of the University of Oslo and financed by the EU Horizon 2020 programme.

The paper investigates if regulating for sustainability in consumer products is effective under existing legal frameworks. It focuses on the mobile phone life cycle to identify hotspots of unsustainability.

International policy and law have long sought to ensure that states regulate the negative impacts of production processes on people and the planet. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 targets sustainable production and consumption; international conventions, such as the Basel Convention, or the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the International Labour Organisation Conventions, all seek to regulate toxic or labour-related impacts associated with industrial production. However, there is ample evidence that such impacts continue. At a time of increasing pressure to develop sustainable systems of production and consumption, we asked whether the existing legal frameworks are appropriate to the task of regulating for sustainability in consumer products. Drawing on research conducted into sustainability in the mobile phone lifecycle, this paper examines the regulatory ecology of hotspots of unsustainability in the product lifecycle of electronics. This paper finds that the interaction of regulatory disjunctures, business models, design of technology, and marginalisation combine to ensure that our systems of production and consumption are predisposed to resist regulation aimed at sustainability.

The paper is open access and is available through this link.