Resource Management & Circular Economy

62 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in the country at present, out of which 5.6 million tonnes is plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is biomedical waste, hazardous waste generation is 7.90 million tonnes per annum and 15 lakh tonnes is e-waste. Only about 75-80% of the municipal waste gets collected and only 22-28 % of this waste is processed and treated. There is tremendous scope for enhancing resource efficiency with the move towards recycling and circular economy.

  • Natural resources form the backbone of any economic development. Resources not only help in meeting our basic needs, but also fulfill human aspirations for a better quality of life and higher standards of living. The recent upsurge in economic growth and mindless consumerism has fuelled the demand for various natural resources enormously, thus exerting pressures on the environment and raising sustainability concerns. Enhancing resource efficiency and promoting the use of secondary raw
  • materials has emerged as a strategy for ensuring the potential trade-off between growth and environmental well-being.
  • Sustainable development was a key theme of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. It encompassed the theme of environment and economic sustainability. Using resources efficiently was also emphasized on World Summit on Sustainable development in 2002.

Waste Management in India

E-waste management frameworks in India have developed over the years from different rules on the subject of waste. These include the Hazardous Waste Management and Handling Rules, 2003 amended in 2008. E-waste was specifically included in the waste and any person who wanted to process or recycle the same had to register with the Central Pollution Control Board. Considering the growing concern specifically in e-waste, the Government came up with guidelines around the Environmentally Sound management of e-waste in 2008 which led to the advent of the e-waste management and handling rules, 2011.

  • Polluter pays principle: The rules were revised to the present day e-waste management rules, 2016. Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) was made a cornerstone of the rules which emanates from the sustainable development principle of ‘Polluter pays’.

Recent Initiatives by Government

JIVAN:- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana” under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas on 28 Feb, 2019.

Background: Government of India launched Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme in 2003 for undertaking blending of ethanol in Petrol to address environmental concerns due to fossil fuel burning. The present policy allows procurement of ethanol produced from molasses and non-food feed stock like celluloses and lignocelluloses material including petrochemical route.

Objectives: Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana was launched to provide financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock. The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under EBP Programme.

  • Conversion of Cooking Oil into Bio-ATF:- During frying, several properties of oil are altered, Total Polar Compounds (TPC) are formed on repeated frying. The toxicity of these compounds is associated with several diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, liver diseases. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the quality of vegetable oils during frying.
  • To divert Used Cooking Oil from the food value chain and curb current illegal practices, Pilot test to convert used cooking oil into bio-aviation turbine fuel was successfully conducted by Indian institute of petroleum in Feb 2019.
  • Note: Main issue is regarding the registration of biodiesel manufacturing units and aggregators collecting Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO) and cost of bio-ATF will rise.
  • Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy:- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy, 2019 on 25.07.2019, which seeks to create a facilitative and regulatory environment to mainstream resource efficiency across all sectors by fostering cross-sectoral collaborations, development of policy instruments, action plans and efficient implementation and monitoring frameworks. The guiding principles of the policy are to reduce primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels, create higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches and minimize waste creation.
  • Terracotta Grinder:- Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) launched a first ever ‘Terracotta Grinder’ at Sewapuri in Varanasi on 2nd September, 2019. This machine will grind the wasted and broken pottery items for re-using in pottery-making.
  • KVIC had also started manufacturing of plastic-mixed handmade paper at Kumarappa National Handmade Paper Institute (KNHPI), a KVIC unit in Jaipur under its project REPLAN (REducing PLAstic in Nature). In this project, the waste plastic is collected, cleaned, chopped, beaten and treated for softness. After that, it is mixed with the paper raw material i.e. cotton rags pulp in a ratio of 80 % (pulp) and 20% (plastic waste).
  • E-waste Clinic:- MoU is signed between Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to set up India’s first e-waste clinic in Bhopal. Electronic waste will be collected door-to-door or it could be directly submitted at the clinic in exchange for a fee.
  • Steel Scrap Policy:- The Ministry of Steel issued steel scrap policy on 8 November, 2019. The policy aims to achieve the following objectives –To promote circular economy in the steel sector.
  • To promote a formal and scientific collection, dismantling and processing activities for end of life products that are sources of recyclable (ferrous, non- ferrous and other non-metallic) scraps.
  • To create a mechanism for treating waste streams and residues produced from dismantling and shredding facilities in compliance to Hazardous & Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.
  • To promote 6Rs principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Redesign and Remanufacture through scientific handling, processing and disposal of all types of recyclable scraps including non-ferrous scraps, through authorized centers / facility.
  • Note: Steel Scrap Policy could result in a surge of mixed unprocessed scrap into India.
  • Environmental and Social Management Framework:- The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued draft Environmental and Social Management Framework in August, 2019. It is World Bank funded project. The document lays out guidelines for coastal States when they approve and regulate projects in coastal zones. It provides a framework that projects should strive to minimize impacts on cultural properties and natural habitats, compensate any loss of livelihood or assets, and adopt higher work safety standards, occupational and community health and safety.
  • Recycling of Ships Act, 2019:- There are various environmental issues and workers’ safety concerns interconnected with the ships recycling industry. Both these issues have been adequately addressed in this bill. Protection of environment and safety of workers are the soul of this bill. Now, ships to be recycled in India will need to obtain a ‘Ready for Recycling Certificate’ in accordance with the Hong Kong Convention. Environmental pollution will be reduced due to enhanced certification and compliances.
  • Note: Ship breaking involves complex process of dismantling and involves issues like labour safety, health and environmental pollution.


  • Increasing inequality is leading to consumerism and wastage of resources.
  • Circular economy regulatory mechanism does not incorporate world’s best practices.
  • Waste segregation at home is not given legislative backing.

Way Forward

2G ethanol sector is a nascent industry and oil marketing companies’ needs to support it.

  • Biodiesel manufacturing units should be registered and monitored.
  • New vocational courses should be developed to equip people in recycling of End of Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVs).
  • Special eco parks should be set up for recycling and scrapping purposes.