Improving use of resources, through adoption of a Resource Efficiency strategy, will be key to India’s sustained high growth and enhanced wellbeing.
Leading think tank in energy and environment, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), has submitted a detailed reference report on ‘National Resource Efficiency Policy for India’ to the Ministry of Environment, & Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Govt. of India.
The report emphasized on the need for an Integrated Resource Efficiency Approach.
As per TERI report this approach is an ideal strategy towards realising the larger goal of a circular economy.
It is based on the 6Rs i.e. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Remanufacture, and Refurbish; principle that optimises material consumption at every stage of the value chain.
The report said that, the rate of recycling in India is at 20-25% as compared to the developed countries like Europe.
It further added that, enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw materials (SRM) has emerged as a strategy for ensuring that, the potential trade-off between growth and environmental well-being can be minimised.
This strategy has the potential to stabilise raw material supply for industry, reduce pressures on the ecosystem, and create many green jobs.
The think tank prepared the report as a knowledge partner to the Resource Efficiency Cell at the MoEF&CC. It outlines the framework for fostering resource efficiency in India.
The report was presented by Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, to CK Mishra, Secretary, MoEF&CC, in the presence of Anil Kumar Jain, Additional Secretary, GoI; Kushal Vashist, Director, MoEF&CC, and Dr Bhawna Singh, Scientist D, MoEF&CC, among others.
On the occasion, MoEF&CC, Secretary, CK Mishra said, “It is essential that resource efficiency is embedded in our development paradigm and we move toward an economy that promotes productive use of resources across value chains in different sectors. This reference document prepared by TERI will be useful towards devising an integrated Resource Efficiency Policy for India.”
“Given its current pattern of material consumption, India may in the near future not have access to virgin resources for driving its economy. It has to move towards a systemic approach towards resource efficiency, so that it needs less virgin material, it has to mine less resources, it is able to reduce its heavy dependency on imported scraps (e.g Aluminium) and it recycles and upcycles waste at a much larger scale,” said Dr Mathur.
According to the reference report, by 2025, India would be able to generate more than 15 to 20 million tonnes of steel scrap from the automotive sector, which is more than the current scrap imported by India. Use of 6R principle could take India’s import dependency in steel and aluminium scrap down to zero.
It could also save 21 million tonnes of iron ore, 8.25 million tonnes of import of coking coal, 3.75 million tonnes of limestone, 4.5 million tonnes of slag generation and 31.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
On specific focus areas, the report suggests the following action areas towards implementing a resource efficiency policy: –
- Regulatory gaps to foster resource efficient and circular design- enhanced implementation of waste management laws, quality standards for the use of secondary materials, certification of circular products, resource efficient packaging, strengthen environmental liability and integrate lifecycle thinking.
- Design of innovative market-based instruments-inclusion of provisions for procurement of resource efficient products and eco-labelled products in public procurement through green procurement guidelines, training workshop for procurement staff, circular procurement through take-back options and third-party arrangements; public tenders to include resource efficiency related quotas and bonus points.
- Creation of resource efficient business models – government support through direct subsidies, viability gap funding, mandatory public procurement, networking and dissemination of solutions as well as regulation to accelerate adoption of certain technologies and/or practices.
- Integrating the informal sector with the formal sector- Aid the informal sector’s access to technology and funding for improving their operations, ensuring safe and healthy working environment for those employed in the sector; help create GIS-based platforms for resource recovery and recycling, providing access to requisite technology and providing skill development to use this technology, organise cooperatives, public private partnerships.
- Strengthening research and knowledge data base- R&D to improve process efficiency and to introduce new processes, improve the recyclability and resource recovery potential of materials at the end of life, finding substitutes and developing sound methodologies to carry out inventorisation and characterization of major waste streams.
Souvik Bhattacharjya, Fellow, TERI, who is among the authors of the report, added, “The absence of lifecycle thinking at the policy level often impedes exploring inter-linkages that can make India utilise resources more efficiently and unlock the associated benefits. An integrated approach that brings together people, technology and processes, and that is facilitated through a suitable policy cutting across materials and sectors will bring in the desired transition towards high resource efficiency.”