Future without landfill is not far away

Today’s waste is tomorrow’s feedstock

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Today it is much easier to just dump your waste than to segregate or process it and bring it back to the life cycle. Circular economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy (take, make, dispose of) in which resources are reserved for as long as possible, extracting maximum value from them whilst in use and then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

On 17 and 18 June 2019, FICCI organized a conference titled ‘3rd Edition of Circular Economy Symposium 2019’ with an objective to discuss and take action on circular economy. In an opening remark Anirban Ghosh, chairman, FICCI Working Group on Circular Economy and chief sustainability officer, Mahindra talked about how the current edition of the symposium aims to enrich the ecosystem of circular economy that encompasses research bodies, the government, regulatory bodies, industry experts and the people.

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CE has potential to generate employment

The conference started with a keynote address by Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer, Niti Aayog, Government of India. He stated, “By 2050, the world population would reach 9.7 billion of which 3 billion people would prosper to middle class consumption level. This would require 71% more resources per capita, thereby raising the total mineral and material demand from 50 billion tons in 2014 to 130 billion tons in 2050.”

Resource circularity being a key technological innovation that can reinvent the life of a product, Kant stressed the need for legislation to promote circular economy in the country. “Several countries have recognized the centrality of circularity as a new paradigm for sustainable development. They have not only embraced the concept of circular economy in their daily life but also brought in strict regulations to ensure higher compliance and promote more reuse, refurbishment and recycling,” he said, adding, “Circular economy has the potential to create 1.4 crore jobs and lacs of new entrepreneurs in the next 5-7 years.”

According to him, developing a circular economy model is linked to the robust ecosystem of the recycling industry.

Global circular ecosystem

Global leaders shared their favorable business environment for circular economy business models. Harry Lehmann, Federal Environment Agency, Germany said, “Developing circular economy is not just looking into the whole circle, but also treating each part as equally important.” He underlined the importance of proper design in circular economy. Hiroshi Tachikawa, Propharm, Japan explained the approach they follow for circular economy and added how the concept of a circular economy is not a new one in Japan as they have been practicing this concept for many years now.

Technology as an enabler

The session on technology (physical, biological and digital) as an enabler for circular economy enlightened the audience about the role of technology in order to foster efficient use and help to close the material loop by providing logistics, availability and condition of the product. Abhishek Deshpande, founder, Recykal lent an insight into his company and its services. He said, “We provide digital full-service waste and recycle-enabling technology that focus on sustainability by connecting generators, processors and recyclers. Our technology assures 100% transparency and traceability in supply chains.”

Plastic not bad, but management a concern

Plastic has become an integral part of the value chain because of its user-friendly properties such as low cost, light weight, high strength and durability. That is why it is being widely used in various industries. However, the increased demand for plastic has also raised a few concerns over plastic waste management. During the session on circular plastics and packaging, industry experts shared their thoughts on the issue, provided various solutions to manage plastic waste and stressed on the need to opt for circular business models.

Circular economy is the way forward

India being one of the fastest growing economies, the country has a dual responsibility that entails managing growth ambitions while being cognizant of rapidly rising resource challenges. Ashutosh Sharma, secretary – Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, stated in his valedictory address, “Recycling does not only make sense in terms of societal well-being of the future generations but there ought to be good business models that produce opportunities even for the present generation.” He mentioned that the Department of Science and Technology has come up with several schemes in the last couple of that encourages sustainable development.

Indian circular economy awards & presentations

The symposium concluded with an award ceremony, where awards were given to organizations and individuals in India that have made notable contributions and brought in a change. ACC, Dell International Services India, Geetanjali Woollens, Ecoware Solutions, Saahas, Govardhan Ecovillage, Kabadiwala Connect, and Recykal, winners and runners-up of India Circular Economy Award also gave presentations of their business model and products.