Circular economy important for India - GulfToday

Circular economy important for India

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Illustrative image.

Illustrative image.

Indian Union Minister Mr Bhupender Yadav last week stressed on the importance of circular economy in the country in which waste is reused to create wealth needed to prevent degradation of the environment and to ensure sustainability.

Addressing an interactive session organized by Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata, India, Mr Yadav added that a circular economy is important for ensuring the sustainability of economic activities. “Circular economy is important. We should know how to turn waste to wealth. It has been estimated that by 2030, Rs 11 lakh crore worth of waste products can be put back into circulation for reuse. This will also help in boosting the economy.” Highlighting that materials are taken from nature and returned as garbage and hence sustainable use of materials is important, Mr Yadav emphasized, “This is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including the government.”

India is a member of the United Nations Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE). Together with the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP), PAGE is supporting a study and consultations on preparing a framework for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence on Circularity in India. The discussions took place on 15 September 2022 and are being taken forward. India joined PAGE in 2018.

A circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. It is expected that the framework and guidance on establishing the Centre will contribute to aligning India’s economic policies and investments more closely with SDG12 and the country’s 2070 net zero target. While the specific services that the Centre should offer will be defined based on national context and priorities, market demand and stakeholder consultations, it is expected that the Centre will provide a range of analytical, policy design, training, and advocacy services for establishing and upscaling circular economy models across sectors.

Hitachi Social Innovation (HSI) states on its website that when the world’s most developed countries are consciously making an effort to change from linear to circular economies, India is poised at the threshold of selecting and embarking on a growth path that is restorative and regenerative by design. HSI points out that India is actively formulating policies and promoting projects that are leveraging advanced solutions to drive it towards a circular economy system. Two such critical areas are electricity from recyclable resources and waste management. India’s exceptional economic and industrial growth along with burgeoning population has exponentially increased its hunger for power. To meet this surging demand through conventional non-recyclable resources is unviable, unsustainable and disastrous for the environment. Therefore, India is aggressively pursuing power generation through its abundant solar power resources and from the huge stash of solid waste that is daily generated in the urban areas.

As described on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website, a circular economy is based on three principles, driven by design - eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials (at their highest value) and regenerate nature. It is underpinned by a transition to renewable energy and materials. A circular economy decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people and the environment. In our current economy, we take materials from the earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste – the process is linear. In a circular economy, by contrast, we stop waste being produced in the first place.

An earlier report, led by the Foundation with the support of ClimateWorks and UNCTAD, had said that by embarking on a circular economy transformation, India could create direct economic benefits for businesses and citizens while reducing negative externalities. It shows that a circular economy trajectory could bring India annual benefits of $624 billion in 2050, and would in addition reduce negative externalities. Greenhouse gas emissions, for example, would be 44% lower in 2050 compared to the current development path.

The report added that having experienced sustained and rapid growth over the past two decades, India is facing rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, with the associated negative externalities that this entails. Yet this scenario is not inevitable, as the country can pre-empt linear lock-ins. With its young population and emerging manufacturing sector, India can make systemic choices that would put it on a trajectory towards positive, regenerative, and value creating development. The report focused on three areas key to the Indian economy: cities and construction, food and agriculture, and mobility and vehicle manufacturing.

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