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National Circular Economy Roadmap for reduction of Plastic waste in India

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On December 6, 2023, a significant event took place in New Delhi, where Dr. Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister, launched the National Circular Economy Roadmap for reducing plastic waste in India. This collaborative effort between India and Australia aims to address the pressing issue of plastic waste. In this article, we will delve into the key points, goals, commitments, technologies, and global collaboration associated with this roadmap.

This topic of “National Circular Economy Roadmap for reduction of Plastic waste in India” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Key Points

  • India’s Leadership in Circular Economy: India is taking a leadership role in the global effort to transition towards a circular economy, with a particular focus on tackling plastic waste.
  • Revenue from Waste Management: In the last three years, India has generated Rs. 11,000 Crore from managing electronic scrap, showcasing the economic potential of waste management.
  • Foster Research and Industry Partnerships: The roadmap aims to encourage collaboration between research institutions and industries to drive innovation in plastic waste management.
  • Transition to Circular Economy in Plastics Sector: India is committed to transforming its plastics sector into a circular economy, focusing on repair, reuse, recycling, sustainability, and circular design.
  • India’s Net Zero Target by 2070: India is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2070.
  • By CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research): The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research is spearheading efforts to develop technologies that reduce the carbon footprint and promote recycling innovation.
  • In Negotiations for Global Plastics Treaty: India is actively engaged in negotiations for a global plastics treaty, which is expected to be finalized next year.

What

  • Involves: The roadmap focuses on four main pillars: repair, reuse, recycling, innovation and technology, sustainable consumption, and circular design and production.

Why

Challenges

  • Large Scale Polymer Production: India faces challenges in managing the large-scale production of polymers, leading to significant plastic waste.
  • Unmanaged Plastic Waste Impact: Unmanaged plastic waste poses a severe threat to terrestrial and marine ecosystems, causing environmental degradation.

Current Plastic Waste Management in India

  • Only 8% Recycled: A mere 8% of plastic waste in India is recycled, highlighting the need for better waste management practices.
  • 29% Mismanaged: Approximately 29% of plastic waste is mismanaged, further exacerbating environmental issues.

Global Concerns

  • Ocean Plastic Pollution: The global concern over ocean plastic pollution and its impact on marine life is a driving force behind this initiative.
  • Global Warming: Plastic waste contributes to global warming, making it crucial to reduce its environmental impact.

Where

  • Focus Areas: The initiative primarily focuses on addressing plastic waste issues within India while collaborating with Australia to exchange knowledge and expertise.

When

  • By 2035: The roadmap sets a goal to achieve a 67% recycling rate, reduce landfill usage by 30%, phase out single-use plastics, and implement an 80% digital tracking system for waste streams.

Who

Key Institutions

  • CSIRO: The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is a key player in developing solutions for plastic waste management.
  • University of New South Wales: This university contributes to research and innovation in the field.
  • University of Technology Sydney: Another educational institution actively involved in circular economy initiatives.
  • TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute): TERI plays a significant role in sustainable development.
  • CSIR-NEERI (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute): This institution contributes its expertise to the cause.
  • Development Alternatives: A key partner in driving circular economy solutions.

How

Strategies

  • Infrastructure Investment: Investments in waste management infrastructure are crucial for effective plastic waste reduction.
  • Improved Recycling Capability: Enhancing recycling capabilities is a key strategy.
  • Consistent Compliance: Ensuring consistent compliance with waste management rules and regulations.
  • Commercial Viability of Technologies: Making plastic recycling technologies economically viable.
  • Secondary Materials Uptake: Promoting the use of secondary materials in production.
  • Circular Production and Design: Emphasizing circular design principles in production processes.

Expected Outcomes

  • Cleaner Environment: Effective plastic waste management will lead to a cleaner environment.
  • 20-50% Less Greenhouse Emissions: Reducing plastic waste will result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Improved Air Quality: Better waste management practices will contribute to improved air quality.

Pros

Environmental Benefits

  • Less Plastic in Ecosystems: Reducing plastic waste will protect ecosystems from pollution.
  • Reduced Greenhouse Emissions: Lowering plastic waste helps combat global warming.

Economic Benefits

  • New Growth Industries: The circular economy initiative can create new industries and jobs.
  • Employment in Zero Plastic Waste Economy: Employment opportunities will arise in a zero plastic waste economy.
  • Value Creation from Plastic Waste: Plastic waste can be turned into a valuable resource.

Challenges

  • Large Plastic Waste Generation: India faces a significant challenge due to the high volume of plastic waste generated.
  • Low Recycling Rates: Low rates of recycling exacerbate the plastic waste problem.
  • Implementing Changes: Implementing changes in infrastructure, recycling systems, and consumption and production patterns poses a challenge.

Way Forward

Policy Formulation

  • Plastic Waste Management Rules: Strengthening rules and regulations for managing plastic waste.
  • e-Waste Management Rules: Effective management of electronic waste.
  • Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules: Managing construction and demolition waste efficiently.
  • Metals Recycling Policy: Developing a policy for recycling metals.

Projects Promotion

  • Towards Circular Economy: Promoting projects that align with the circular economy concept.
  • Addressing Human Health and Ecological Impacts: Focusing on projects that address health and ecological concerns.

Innovation and Technology Application

  • For Recycling and Reuse of Waste: Embracing innovation and technology to improve recycling and reuse of waste materials.

Other Details

Swachhata Campaign

  • Inspired by PM Modi: The Swachhata Campaign draws inspiration from Prime Minister Modi’s vision for a cleaner India.
  • Waste to Wealth Concept: Promoting the idea of converting waste into wealth.
  • Mass Awareness: The campaign aims to create mass awareness about the importance of waste management.

Conclusion:
The National Circular Economy Roadmap for reducing plastic waste in India, in collaboration with Australia, represents a significant step towards addressing plastic pollution and fostering a sustainable future. With clear goals, strategies, and commitments, India is on the path to creating a cleaner environment, reducing greenhouse emissions, and unlocking economic opportunities through effective plastic waste management. The challenges ahead will require continuous innovation, policy formulation, and public awareness campaigns to achieve a plastic waste-free India.

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