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Leandro J. Llorente-González
Erasmus University Rotterdam, International Institute of Social Studies, 2502 LT ’s-Gravenhage, the Netherlands
Vol 33 No 2 (2024): Special Issue. Circular economy, sustainability and degrowth, Special, pages 1-32
Submitted: 02-10-2023 Accepted: 19-01-2024 Published: 21-03-2024
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The shift from the current extractive linear production and consumption system to a circular economy (CE) has been heralded as a way to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of human economic activity. The European Union (EU) has committed to leading the way to a worldwide CE, with the development of an international market of recyclable raw materials (RRM) as one of the main pillars of its strategy. However, there is extensive evidence regarding the unequal distribution of the economic benefits and environmental damages related to international trade. Therefore, the objective of a global fair transition to a CE may be undermined if the related markets continue to reproduce the prevailing patterns of ecologically unequal exchange. In order to test whether or not this is the case, this research studies the physical trade balance and the terms of trade on the recent RRM trade flows from, to and between the EU27 member states.