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The concept of a circular economy has been widely accepted by governments and industries. In Europe, the European Commission adopted the Circular Economy package in 2015. The Ecodesign Directive has been identified as one of the most suitable legislative tools for achieving some of the objectives in the package because it has the potential to translate the circular economy principles into specific product material efficiency requirements. This paper applies the Ecodesign policy process to “enterprise servers” to illustrate how circular economy strategies can be implemented by European product policies. Indeed, the paper introduces a potential novel approach to “operationalize” circular economy principles in product policies. The evolution of the material efficiency requirements for a more circular economy is described up to their final formulation, which is the one in the published Ecodesign regulation. This legal act includes requirements on design for disassembly, firmware availability, data deletion, and presence of critical raw materials. The process for enterprise servers has been successful as the early discussions between stakeholders, policymakers and experts, supported by appropriate metrics along an iterative debate, comes to the publications of material efficiency requirements in a regulation. This study represents a 'first-of-a-kind' experience, and sets precedents for the development of similar requirements for other product groups.
Talens Peiró, L., Polverini, D., Ardente, F., & Mathieux, F. (2020). Advances towards circular economy policies in the EU: The new Ecodesign regulation of enterprise servers. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.104426