Weibold Academy article series discusses periodically the practical developments and scientific research findings in the end-of-life tire (ELT) recycling and pyrolysis industry.

This article is a review by Claus Lamer – the senior pyrolysis consultant at Weibold. One of the goals of this review is to give entrepreneurs in this industry, project initiators, investors and the public, a better insight into a rapidly growing circular economy. At the same time, this article series should also be a stimulus for discussion.

For the sake of completeness, we would like to emphasize that these articles are no legal advice from Weibold or the author. For legally binding statements, please refer to the responsible authorities and / or specialist lawyers.


IMPEL is an international non-profit association comprising environmental authorities from EU Member States, acceding and candidate countries, EEA and EFTA countries, and potential European Community members.

The association is registered in Belgium and its legal seat is in Brussels, Belgium. IMPEL was set up in 1992 as an informal Network of European regulators and authorities concerned with the implementation and enforcement of environmental law. The Network’s objective is to create the necessary impetus in the European Community to make progress on ensuring a more effective application of environmental legislation. Its aim is to promote professional collaboration, information exchange, and best practices among environmental regulators, with the goal of ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of European environmental law.

During the years IMPEL has developed into a considerable, widely known organisation, being mentioned in several EU legislative and policy documents, e.g., the 7th Environment Action Programme and the Recommendation on Minimum Criteria for Environmental Inspections. The expertise and experience of the participants within IMPEL make the network uniquely qualified to work on both technical and regulatory aspects of EU environmental legislation.

The Waste Management and Circular Economy (WMCE) project by IMPEL aims to create a common understanding of the key points of the Waste Framework Directive and to standardize waste management practices across Member States.

The WMCE project has produced guidance documents on the waste hierarchy steps, including the 'Making the Circular Economy Work' guidance launched in 2019. This document was developed to support regulators, policy- and law-makers, and businesses in enabling and carrying through innovations related to the circular economy. The WMCE project team organized a workshop in Lisbon in December 2022, with participants from 13 countries attending on-site and online. This workshop covered the ongoing subgroups of the project and presented a new subgroup for 2023, with country presentations on the concepts of End-of-waste and By-products. The WMCE project will produce more guidance documents, tools, and training materials for enforcement authorities in 2023 and 2024 and welcomes contributions from interested experts from IMPEL members.

Although regulators are the main target audience for these diverse IMPEL publications, they can also be useful for policy- and law-makers and businesses in fulfilling their role in relation to circular innovation. It can help them better understand each other's needs and how to better interact with each other.

Collaborating for Environmental Progress

Public inspections have traditionally focused on ensuring compliance with legal requirements, but this approach has limitations. Recent years have shown that simply setting rules and enforcing compliance is not enough to address the complex challenges, such as environmental issues, climate change, energy transition, and circularity. To make progress in these areas, IMPEL acknowledged the need to find new ways for public and private entities to work together more effectively. [1]

In the realm of environmental inspections, the focus should shift from checking compliance with regulations to encouraging companies and individuals to take responsibility and go beyond what is required. Public supervision should aim to stimulate contributions to environmental goals beyond what is mandated by law. This requires a broad perspective and engagement in public-private collaborations to achieve maximum environmental benefits. Developing new policies and tools that require additional competencies is also necessary. [1]

Overcoming complexity requires commitment, leadership, and courage to push forward while continuously learning from findings and adjusting assumptions. Shifting focus from regulatory compliance to environmental benefits, using creativity and technical knowledge, has the potential for success in public inspections. The question is not so much why or how to go beyond compliance, but when and what to prioritize. Environmental inspectors have the knowledge to guide companies in identifying what is important and developing solutions to achieve results. [1]

How to Make-it-Work

European countries and the EU are committed to transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. Regulators have a critical role in facilitating this transition by encouraging industry to become more circular and promoting resource efficiency and the use of secondary raw materials. However, regulators face significant challenges in balancing the need to protect human health and the environment with the pressure to recover more materials from waste and prevent waste crimes. Proactively engaging with businesses and accurately applying legislation is demanding work for regulators, who also depend on good interaction with policymakers and lawmakers. In the regulatory cycle, policies and legislation provide a framework for regulators, and feedback from regulators can help improve policies and legislation. [2]

The transition to a circular economy requires businesses to innovate and adopt new processes, which can lead to economic, environmental, and legal uncertainties. Regulators play a vital role in facilitating circular innovations by enforcing different complex pieces of EU legislation, but they also face challenges, such as limited guidance or standards, a lack of suitable strategies, and insufficient support from management. Meanwhile, businesses respond to market constraints and opportunities as well as the regulatory environment, but may face regulatory inflexibility, uncertainty, and obstacles when importing or exporting materials. Additionally, policymakers and lawmakers need to make good use of the opportunities for circular thinking in the changing EU legislative landscape and be sensitive to feedback from regulators, providing support, guidance, and non-regulatory conditions to enable the right market conditions for secondary raw materials. Overall, it is crucial for regulators, businesses, and policymakers to work together to overcome the challenges and achieve the goal of a circular economy, which aims to reduce the use of natural resources and keep materials in the economy. [2]

Supporting regulators in enabling circular innovations

The objective of this guidance and handbook is to assist regulators in the following ways:

  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the prospects and challenges related to EU environmental law.
  • Improve their organizational effectiveness by identifying suitable approaches.
  • Determine the necessary support required from policy and law-makers.
  • Develop a greater awareness of the requirements and concerns of innovative businesses.

The Make-it-Work guidance document should not be considered as a set of mandatory rules. Its purpose is to bring attention to important considerations and issues relevant to the implementation of the circular economy in practical terms. It presents a variety of effective and appropriate methods for authorities, based on successful practices from various Member States. Regulators, policy- and law-makers will apply distinct approaches based on their respective national or local circumstances, to comply with EU environmental regulations and facilitate the transition to a circular economy.

The document provides concrete examples for illustration purposes throughout the guidance, and readers interested in learning more about these examples are encouraged to contact the project leaders. [2]


The Waste Management and Circular Economy projects by IMPEL are a notable step towards standardizing waste management practices and making the circular economy work in Europe. The project's guidance documents, tools, and training materials aim to support regulators, policy and law-makers, and businesses in fulfilling their roles in circular innovation.

The transition to a circular economy requires the collaboration of regulators, policymakers, and businesses, and it is essential to create a common understanding and standardized waste management practices across Member States.

However, this transition also requires overcoming the complexity and challenges of balancing the need to protect human health and the environment with the pressure to recover more materials from waste and prevent waste crimes. Therefore, as is true for all industry branches, it is incumbent upon all of us in the ELT sector to engage in public-private collaborations, encourage innovation, and continuously learn from findings to achieve maximum environmental benefits. Ultimately, the commitment and courage to push forward while balancing environmental benefits with regulatory compliance can lead to a successful transition to a circular economy.


[1] IMPEL – Handbook “Cooperation in the field of environmental inspection and certification of environmental management systems”, 2022, Link

[2] IMPEL – Making the Circular Economy work, Guidance for regulators on enabling for the circular economy, 2019, Link