The advent of the circular economy paradigm has definitively changed the economic nature of municipal waste management and calling for an innovative approach for its economic regulation. This paper discusses how the general framework of the theory of economic regulation of services of general economic interest can fit the MWM industry. We show that this industry exhibits specificities that require an adaptation of regulatory principles, but nonetheless cross-fertilization from the regulatory practice of other utilities is feasible. However, the recognition made shows that the applied economic research on this sector is still in its infant phase, and substantial improvements are needed in order both to understand its mechanisms from a theoretical viewpoint and to provide empirical evidence. Different from other utilities, physical network assets are less dominant and competition opportunities are larger; however, the main constraint to widespread opening of the market descends from contingent reasons determining de-facto market power, and from the superior value of service reliability and contrast to illegal operation.
Keywords: Circular economy-recycling, waste management
Jel Code: Q5