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The Circularity Challenge: An Indian Perspective

Circular Economy is a model of economics that has the potential to overcome the challenges towards sustainable development.

The all-encompassing model has a three-point principal system as its anchor, namely:

a. Design out waste & pollution

b. Design for environment for continuous circulation of materials and products

c. Design for regeneration

The Circularity Challenge

The circular economy has gained momentum worldwide as a solution to the triple planetary crisis that is majorly being fueled by human-centric rampant development and overconsumption leading to resource scarcity. The Honorable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, has also pushed for the Circular Economy to be adopted in the governance & development of the nation.

“Our analysis indicates approximately half-a-trillion dollars’ worth of economic value that can be unlocked through Circular Economy business models in India by 2030” - FICCI Circular Symposium 2018 in association with NITI Aayog & Accenture Strategy

India has immense potential as a nation to accelerate the adoption & implementation of strategies for a circular economy with profitability & economic development. Currently, there are certain gaps & challenges that can be tapped as opportunities to make circularity mainstream.

Let us look at some of these ‘gaps’ in the country that possess the potential of being huge opportunities:

  1. Inadequate awareness and education: There is a need for investment in knowledge sharing at all levels of society to establish circularity. Further, increased awareness among consumers, training for entrepreneurs, decision-makers, designers & researchers with interventions in the educational curriculum is necessary.

  2. Legislation and policy intervention: The governance has focused on introducing waste management rules and policies for organizations to take up ‘extended producer responsibility (EPR)’. However, to favor behavioral change and eliminate barriers to the adoption of the best practices, more legislative intervention & implementation is needed.

  3. Gaps in green skills required for a systems transition: The innovation space demands skills that help design for the environment and set up circular supply chains for industries. Adopting the principles of circular design & material science in all career streams would help bridge the gap. Additionally, green careers need to go mainstream with more courses & skill development in this space.

  4. Investments & Funding: Social impact funding for Research & Development needs to be mobilized to push new-age innovations and startups working in the circular economy space.

  5. Technology development: A need for groundbreaking technologies can be tapped upon within the country in the digital, physical, and biological spaces to pioneer a shift towards a circular economy model.

  6. Collaborations and partnerships: The transition needs to happen at all levels of society which demands a need for partnerships between various sectors including industries, legislative and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), government sectors, institutions, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and NGOs.

Indians have lived a sustainable lifestyle for ages and can be the forerunners in the global transition towards a circular economy. This will be made possible only when the above gaps can be overcome with individuals, professionals, government officials, teachers, and other stakeholders, all becoming conscious & mindful consumers.

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