By - King Stubb & Kasiva on October 6, 2023
In the 21st century, the global community is moving towards more sustainable practices in almost every endeavor. The reliance on non-renewable resources is something that no business, industry, or economy wants to be associated with. This shift towards sustainability has always been a part of the global consciousness, but recent environmental challenges such as rising average atmospheric temperatures, ozone depletion, and the near exhaustion of natural resources have accelerated this shift. In response to these challenges, in 2015, the Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by 193 member states of the United Nations at the UNGA.
This agenda outlined seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India's commitment to achieving all the SDGs by 2030 is reflected in its policies. Specifically, from an economic and industrial perspective, transitioning to a circular economy, which emphasizes the regeneration and reuse of materials or products, is essential for achieving sustainability. India's commitment to these sustainable policies is evident in its role during its presidency of the G-20 and its deliberations therein.
In alignment with the SDGs, the Government of India has been formulating, implementing, and overseeing policies across all states and domains. Leading these efforts is NITI Aayog, which released the SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018. This report analyzes the progress of Indian states based on various indicators and ranks their performance in various domains. The report highlights the efforts and outcomes of various state governments and the Central Government in working towards achieving the SDGs. One of the major SDGs, apart from Hunger and Education, is environmental protection, and Indian public policy is at the forefront when it comes to addressing this aspect of the "Agenda 2030."
During India's presidency of G-20, deliberations were made from the Indian side which focused on building a "Circular Economy" by adopting resource efficiency methods. Since 2015's "Agenda 2030", India has been taking measures to incorporate resource efficiency into its economy and shift it from a take-make-dispose model to a reduce-reuse-recycle model.
In furtherance of this goal, in 2017, the Indian Government initiated the Resource Efficiency Initiative (EU-REI) with the European Union. This initiative was primarily based on various cooperative arrangements between India and the E.U. regarding the formulation of recycling and waste disposal policies and the transfer of various material recycling technologies between the two signatories. Following this initiative, various ministries of India formulated rules such as Plastic Waste Management Rules, E-waste Management Rules, Construction Demolition Waste Management Rules, Metals Recycling Policy, etc., as a part of the "Atmanirbhar Bharat" scheme.
These steps are essential in reducing industries' intake of freshly procured raw materials from mines and ores and increasing their intake of recycled materials, thereby creating a circular industrial ecosystem.
The steel industry, one of the most resource-intensive and polluting sectors, is a major focus. The government has introduced a new metal recycling policy aimed at increasing the current recycling rates in the steel sector from 15-25% to as high as possible. This is part of an effort to reduce the industry’s environmental impact, which currently contributes to 7% of all emissions.
To encourage industries to align with the government’s policy agenda towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), incentives such as subsidies for renewable energy usage and tax benefits are being provided. In fact, subsidies for renewable energy in India increased from Rs. 5774 crores in FY 2021 to Rs. 11529 crores in FY 2022.
In addition, the government has launched initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojna and GOBAR Dhan scheme to promote bio-economy and make transportation more sustainable. These schemes aim to convert waste materials like municipal and agricultural waste, and cattle waste into biofuels like second-generation ethanol and Compressed BioGas (CBG), respectively.
Recognizing the importance of collaboration, India has also launched the Resource Efficiency Circular Economy Industry Coalition (RECEIC) during its G-20 presidency. This industry-led initiative aims to promote resource efficiency and circular economy practices globally.
Lastly, the E-Waste Management Rules, 2022 have been introduced to regulate e-waste in the country. These rules provide manufacturers who produce certain notified Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE) with special licenses for manufacturing. Such EEE manufacturers will be given e-waste collection targets from time to time.
Developments and changes in the policies of the Indian Government have continuously been towards achieving sustainability and realising the SDGs by 2030. Govt.’s focus on recycling materials, formulating sustainable fuels, incentivising the compliance of the guidelines by the industries, etc., have been clear. This stance will benefit India in circularizing its economy and fulfil all the aspects of “Agenda 2030” as early as possible, if not by 2030.
RECEIC, launched during India's G-20 presidency, promotes global resource efficiency and circular economy practices.
Industries receive incentives like subsidies for renewable energy usage and tax benefits.
The steel industry is a major focus due to its resource intensity and environmental impact.