Govt Driving Transition from Linear to Circular Economy

New Delhi: The key to an aatmanirbhar Bharat is sustainable growth. The need of the hour is a development model that leads to the optimum utilization of resources. With a growing population, rapid urbanization, climate change and environmental pollution, India must move towards a circular economy.

An economic approach aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources, circular economy offers a new paradigm that emphasizes on the need to take a comprehensive view of products and processes. Our production systems must adopt practices around the principles of circular economy so that they not only reduce resource dependency but also gain competitiveness.

A circular economy path adopted by India could bring in substantial annual benefits, along with significant reduction in congestion and pollution, which would consequently have a snowball effect on the economy. Our ability to maximize our resource efficiency, minimize the consumption of finite resources as well as the impetus to the emergence of new business models and entrepreneurial ventures will spur our transition towards self-reliance.

The Government has been actively formulating policies and promoting projects to drive the country towards a circular economy. It has already notified various rules, such as the Plastic Waste Management Rules, e-Waste Management Rules, Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, Metals Recycling Policy, etc., in this regard.

Since its constitution, NITI Aayog too has undertaken several initiatives to ensure sustainable economic growth. Direct initiatives were taken to address the challenges in the utilization of waste as resource and to evolve a perspective on the recycling industry in India. Progress was made in promoting the usage of fly ash and slag produced in the steel industry in other sectors. NITI also organized an international conference on ‘Sustainable Growth through National Recycling’; prepared a strategy paper, along with the EU delegation to India, on ‘Resource Efficiency’, and four more on resource efficiency in the sectors of steel (with the Ministry of Steel), aluminium (with the Ministry of Mines), construction and demolition (with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) and e-waste (with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology).

To expedite the transition of the country from a linear to a circular economy, 11 committees have been formed—to be led by the concerned line ministries and comprising officials from MoEFCC and NITI Aayog, domain experts, academics and industry representatives—for 11 focus areas (Annexure 1). The committees will prepare comprehensive action plans for transitioning from a linear to a circular economy in their respective focus areas. They will also carry out the necessary modalities to ensure the effective implementation of their findings and recommendations.

The focus areas include 11 end-of-life products/recyclable materials/wastes that either continue to pose considerable challenges or are emerging as new challenge areas that must be addressed in a holistic manner.

While increased manufacturing and changing consumption patterns will generate more employment and increase per capita income, the effects of such higher production on the environment must also be efficiently managed and mitigated. With only 2% of the world’s landmass and 4% of freshwater resources, a linear economy model of ‘Take-Make-Dispose’ would constrain India’s manufacturing sector and, consequently, the overall economy. Therefore, it is essential to recognize and revolutionize the material flow in the manufacturing process and shift towards a circular economy, which provides multipronged economic and ecological benefits.

Annexure 1

S. No. Focus Area Concerned Line Ministry
1 Municipal Solid Waste and Liquid Waste

 

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
2 Scrap Metal (Ferrous and Non-Ferrous)

 

Ministry of Steel
3 Electronic Waste Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
4 Lithium Ion (Li-ion) Batteries NITI Aayog
5 Solar Panels MNRE
6 Gypsum Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
7 Toxic and Hazardous Industrial Waste Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals
8 Used Oil Waste Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas
9 Agriculture Waste Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare
10 Tyre and Rubber Recycling

 

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade
11 End-of-life Vehicles (ELVs) Ministry of Road Transport and Highways