Legal framework for a resource-efficient circular economy


The research project investigates which legal instruments could potentially be used to fight food waste and promote the life and service time of products, and thus promote a resource-efficient circular economy.

Project description (ongoing research project)

The research project has three focal areas. The first entails an analysis of legal obstacles and incentives that would encourage the food industry to reduce food waste. This will be done by investigating both voluntary measures and regulatory approaches. The second looks at the introduction of legal incentives to motivate manufacturers to produce goods with a long life time and to encourage consumers to keep those goods in use for as long as possible. This will involve extensive comparative analyses for the purpose of assessing the feasibility of implementation in Switzerland. The third involves bringing the two project work streams together in synthesis to analyse whether there are commonalities on which to base proposals for resource-conserving legislation.


Global demand for goods and food has intensified in recent years, and as yet the trend shows no sign of abating. Simultaneously, the life and service time of many products have become shorter and a large percentage of food goes to waste. In response to this situation, steps need to be taken to ensure the consumption of food and products is more sustainable. A suitable legal framework and behavioural change will be required not only in the relevant industries, but also among the consumers who will enable a resource-efficient circular economy.


The project aims to develop specific legal measures in support of projects to avoid food waste and encourage repairs that are already in progress. Furthermore, we intend to develop incentives that will motivate industry, manufacturers and consumers to design products with longer lifetime, use them more prudently and label food in such a way as to guarantee maximum usability. Finally, we will identify a legal framework for a resource-efficient circular economy.


The results of the research project will find direct application in Switzerland. They will support existing approaches avoiding food waste, promoting products with longer life times and encouraging repairs, and facilitating the development of new approaches. This will reduce waste generation in Switzerland and decrease resource consumption. Reducing food waste is a declared aim of Agenda 2030 and is specifically mentioned in Sustainable Development Goal 12 “Responsible Production and Consumption” as point 12.3. The project is a contribution to achieving this goal.

Original title

Combating food waste and promoting repair: changing patterns of sale and consumption as cornerstones of an evolving legal framework for a resource efficient circular economy

Project leader

  • Prof. Dr. Sebastian Heselhaus, Lehrstuhl für Europarecht, Völkerrecht, Öffentliches Recht und Rechtsvergleichung



Further information on this content


Prof. Dr. Sebastian Heselhaus Lehrstuhl für Europarecht, Völkerrecht, Öffentliches Recht und Rechtsvergleichung
Frohburgstrasse 3
Postfach 4466
6002 Luzern +41 41 229 53 84