Known for its resourcefulness and thriftiness, India is home to many diverse cultures and traditions. Because of its limited resources and growing population, the country has long recognized how important it is to conserve resources and promote sustainable practices. For centuries, India has practiced circular economy principles in various ways. It’s not a new concept in India. For instance, in India, repurposing kitchen waste is a common practice. For centuries, it has been practiced in different forms. Organic fertilizer for agriculture is made from this waste, and it’s turned into compost.
Using a circular economy minimizes waste, optimizes resource use, and promotes sustainability. Circular economies are different from linear economies, in which raw materials are extracted, processed, used, and then thrown away as waste. In general, the circular economy emphasizes repairing, refurbishing, and recycling materials so they can be reused for as long as possible. Three key principles of the circular economy: reducing waste and pollution, preserving products and materials for a long time, and regenerating nature.
Knowing India from Circular Economy standpoint
India has been taking circular economy seriously, I know a lot of improvements are required, but considering its geo-political as well as the demographics scenarios, there is a definite action which is happening around. I think beyond governments, people have started contributing fairly, and the spread of knowledge towards recycling and waste managements have started embodying into the basic culture of the societies. Let’s look at some key things that we should know when we speak about the Circular Economy in India:
|Growing Awareness||74% of Indians believe that it is important to buy products from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. (Source: YouGov, 2021)|
|Policy Support||India’s EPR policy has led to the collection and recycling of 56,000 metric tons of e-waste in 2019-20. (Source: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, 2020)|
|Entrepreneurial Opportunities||India’s circular economy presents a potential economic opportunity of $624 billion by 2050. (Source: Kalaari Foundation, 2020)|
|Resource Efficiency||The Indian textile industry has saved 3.3 billion liters of water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10 million tones through sustainable manufacturing practices. (Source: Sustainable Apparel Coalition, 2020)|
However its all not glamorous when we talk about India and its Circular Economy. That being said, the big challenge remains is that India still recycles only 25% of its plastic waste, with the remaining 75% ending up in landfills.
How are industries linked in India’s circular economy?
You can apply circular economy principles to a lot of industries, from manufacturing to retail, to construction to energy. By implementing circular economy principles into their operations, companies can reduce their environmental footprint, conserve resources, and promote sustainable practices. Here are some industry specific examples of how circular economy principles are being or can be applied.
|Industry||Problem Statement||Change||Final Benefit|
|Textile and Apparel||Huge amounts of textile waste generated||Implementation of circular practices like recycling and upcycling||Reduced landfill waste and decreased resource consumption|
|Automotive||Disposal of used and end-of-life vehicles||Adoption of recycling and refurbishment practices||Reduced resource consumption and landfill waste|
|Construction||Excessive use of virgin materials in construction||Adoption of circular materials and practices||Reduced resource consumption and landfill waste|
|Food and Beverage||Large amounts of food waste generated||Adoption of practices like composting and donation of excess food||Reduced landfill waste and creation of alternative revenue streams through donation|
|Electronics||High amounts of electronic waste generated||Implementation of take-back programs and refurbishment of devices||Reduced landfill waste and decreased resource consumption|
Now reduction in the landfill waste and the decreased resource consumption is a very important and also a greater action which is necessary to be taken into the consideration. And in India, these circular practices are being implemented across various industries to the extent possible and the practices is what the above table demonstrates. By adopting circular practices like recycling, upcycling, refurbishing, and take-back programs, waste from various industries is being redirected into the production cycle, reducing the need for virgin resources.
The result is not only the conservation of natural resources, but it also helps with minimizing the negative impact on the environment associated with the extraction, production, and disposal of materials. By reducing landfill waste, we can marginally cut greenhouse gas emissions and help fight global warming.
“The circular economy is not just about recycling; it is about designing waste out of the system.”Ellen MacArthur
We need to understand that circular practices don’t just apply to a specific industry or sector, but are universal and the planet gets a lot of benefit from circular practices.
The carbon footprint associated with mining, transportation, and processing of virgin resources is significantly reduced when the extraction of virgin resources is reduced. Furthermore, we can reduce the negative impacts of landfill sites, like air pollution and groundwater contamination, by diverting waste from landfills. For our planet’s well-being and the well-being of future generations, circular practices are crucial.
Let’s explore specific industries and see how circular economy comes into picture.
Circular economy is the concept of making products that can easily be disassembled, recycled, or reused in the manufacturing sector. Companies can manufacture their products using recycled materials in order to reduce the amount of waste they produce. As a result, they can make it easy to disassemble them so that they can be repaired, reconditioned, or recycled again in the future. By designing cars with modular components that are easily replaceable or recyclable, this approach can help reduce waste and maximize the value of materials. This reduces waste and maximizes material value.
Circular economies in retail are when you switch from a linear consumption model to a circular one. There are a lot of ways retailers can offer rental or subscription services, where customers can rent clothes or electronics and return them to reduce the need for new products. As well as reducing waste and virgin material use, retailers can incorporate recycled or repurposed materials into their products, reducing waste and virgin material use.
The construction industry uses recycled or repurposed materials to build buildings. Buildings built with reclaimed wood, recycled concrete, or recycled steel reduces the need for virgin materials, reduces waste, and reduces carbon footprints. As a result, the construction industry is reducing its carbon footprint and reducing its waste.
Food and agriculture
Food companies can use food waste as a resource by recycling food waste into compost or animal feed. The circular economy involves reducing waste and resource usage in the food and agriculture sectors. Additionally, they can use regenerative agriculture techniques like cover cropping and reduced tillage to improve soil health and reduce carbon emissions.
A big part of the circular economy is switching to renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower. In addition to energy efficiency measures, circular economies aim to manage demand to reduce energy consumption. Waste heat from industrial processes or data centers can be used to make electricity, which cuts waste and makes us more energy-efficient.
Closing Note: India’s Circular economy, the secret to resource and sustainability
It’s not just good for the environment, it’s also good for business. By reducing waste and optimizing resource use, businesses can cut costs and improve their bottom line. A circular economy can also lead to new business opportunities, such as the development of new recycling technologies or the creation of new products made from recycled materials.
In a world where more and more countries and organizations are switching to a more sustainable model of consumption and production, circular economy is gaining traction. The Indian economy has a long history of resourcefulness and frugality, so it’s a great place to lead. By incorporating circular economy principles into their operations, Indian companies can reduce their environmental impact, conserve resources, and promote sustainable practices.
It won’t be easy to transition to a circular economy. It takes a change in mindset, as well as the willingness to change how we do business and consume goods and services, to change the way we consume. The circular value chain can only happen if different sectors and stakeholders work together to maximize the value of materials.
For the circular economy to work, government, non-governmental organizations, and businesses need to work together to raise awareness about the benefits of circular economies and give companies incentives and support for adopting circular practices.
“The circular economy is a journey, not a destination.”Ken Webster
In my opinion, the circular economy is a great way to promote sustainability and reduce waste. It helps you build new businesses, reduce your impact on the environment, and create a more sustainable society. It makes our economy more resilient and sustainable when we integrate circular economy principles. Our future depends on embracing the circular economy approach and working towards a more sustainable future.
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