Draft National Resources Efficiency Policy 2019 – Key Features

Draft national resources efficiency policy

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. However, it is consuming the limited natural resources at an unsustainable rate. India’s resource extraction is estimated to be more than three times the world average. Also, India’s material productivity is much lower than the global average. Material productivity is the ratio of output achieved compared to the inputs used. Low material productivity means the inefficient use of natural resources. It is evident that India’s economic growth is at the cost of the natural environment. National Resources Efficiency Policy seeks to solve the problem of the inefficient use of natural resources and promote recycling and reusing of available resources. With the growing demands and the increased strain on the environment, a solid policy to ensure sustainable economic growth is a need of the hour.

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What is Draft National Resources Efficiency Policy?

  • Draft National Resources Efficiency policy seeks to create a facilitative and regulatory environment to mainstream resources efficiency across all sectors of the Indian economy.
  • It provides a 3-year action plan in seven major sectors of the Indian Economy – Automobile sector, plastic packaging, building and construction, electric and electronic equipment, solar photovoltaic, steel and aluminium sectors.
  • These together make up one-fourth of India’s income.
  • The National Resources Efficiency Policy aims for the efficient use of all the essential resources like metals, minerals, fossil fuels, biomass, air, water and forests across all life cycles starting from the extraction of raw materials to the end-of-the-life management.
  • It is guided by the following principles:
  1. Reduction of the consumption of the primary resource to the sustainable levels while ensuring the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  2. Striving for resource-efficient and circular approaches to obtain higher value with limited resources;
  3. Minimization of wastes;
  4. Proving material security;
  5. Creating employment and business models that ensure environmental protection and restoration.

Why do we need the National Resources Efficiency Policy?

  • Natural resources are the backbone of any economy for its development and growth.
  • They not only help fulfil the basic needs but also help in the betterment of the quality of life and also improvement in the standard of living.
  • India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world with GDP of 2.6 trillion USD.
  • To boost economic growth and development, natural resources have been largely exploited indiscriminately.
  • India has increased its material consumption six times, from 1.18 billion tonnes in 1970 to 7 billion tonnes in 2015.
  • It is estimated that material consumption is projected to be more than double by 2030.
  • The link between resource use, climate change, land degradation and loss of biodiversity has been established scientifically.
  • It is evident that the exploitation of natural resources for economic growth is adversely impacting our environment.
  • According to the available data, India is extracting 1580tonnes/acre of resources.
  • This is higher than the world average of 450tonnes/acre.
  • Water is rapidly becoming a scarce resource and the situation of land degradation is worsening.
  • Nearly 100% of the “most critical” materials are being imported to India, making the economy vulnerable to global economic fluctuations.
  • In addition, India’s recycling rate is just about 20-25% – less than the 70% recycling rate in the developing countries in Europe.
  • Furthermore, the increased material use is closely related to the problem of increased emission of wastes into the environment.
  • Therefore the judicious use of natural resources is the need of the hour.
  • Also, India is a signatory to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • India is committed to providing sustainable economic growth while taking into account the sustainable use of natural resources and safeguarding the environment.
  • The efficient use of the resources would play a vital role in the mitigation of climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss and also reduce the cost of economic development.

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What are the features of this policy?

  • National Resources Efficiency Authority: This policy seeks to set up National Resources Efficiency Authority (NREA). It comes under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. Its members include the representation from various ministries, UTs/States and other stakeholders. It would be supported by the Inter-Ministerial National Resources Efficiency Board.
  • Financial Benefits: This policy seeks to provide tax benefits on the recycled materials. It also aims to provide green loans to the Small and Medium Enterprises and soft loans to the construction of the waste disposal facilities.
  • Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs): This policy seeks to set up Material Recovery Facilities – the specialized plants that receive, separates and prepares recycled materials for the end-user manufacturers.
  • Circular Economy: This policy aims to make India a circular economy based on the principle of 6Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Redesign, Remanufacture and Refurbish.
  • Zero-landfill policy: National Resources policy is seeking to impose high landfill taxes and high gate fee or tipping fee on those who generate high wastes so as to encourage them to use their resources judicially and utilize other means of waste management.

What are the key functions of NREA?

  • Identify and integrate the resource efficiency concerns in related sectoral and cross-sectorial policies: NREA seeks to undertake a mainstream holistic and integrated approach to identify, address and integrate the resource efficiency concerns of various sectors and develop cooperation among regulators.
  • Identify the needed legislation for promoting resource efficiency: NREA would involve in identifying the emerging areas of concerns and providing the necessary legislations through review and consultation to ensure the efficient use of the resources.
  • Establish Resource Efficiency Targets: NREA, in consultation with the stakeholders, must establish targets for the efficient use of the resources through material recycling, reusing and landfilling targets.
  • Setting up of the standard guidelines for the reuse of the secondary materials: It must address the concerns of the quality, durability, easier repair or recyclability of the secondary materials.
  • Create and maintain database: NREA must involve in the creation database that keeps a record of the materials used and the waste generated, recycled and landfilled across various sectors, lifecycles and regions. This data will be fed into the database by the concerned government agencies.
  • Measuring the progress of the resource efficiency: Through the database available, NREA must identify the progress and use them to establish the targets.
  • Establishment of the regulatory mechanism: NREA seeks to establish audit mechanisms with deterrent penal provisions that are regulated by law. These audits will be undertaken by the concerned government agencies.
  • Support collaboration between different stakeholders: NREA would be involved in the collaboration between related government agencies, communities, research institutes, and industry associations. It seeks to establish a dialogue between relevant government agencies and foreign agencies for experience sharing, knowledge transfer and obtaining government models for achieving resource efficiency.
  • Training and Capacity building: NREA would involve in the capacity building and training of the key actors responsible for undertaking and overseeing the resource efficiency plans and strategies.

What is the scope of NREP?

  • The National Resources Efficiency Policy ensures the efficient use of all the materials and resources across all the life cycle stages of any sectors in the economy.
  • This policy covers all the resources (biotic and abiotic) across various stages of the life cycle of the materials including the raw material extraction, it’s processing, production, use, disposal and end-of-the life management of any product or system.
  • There are numerous economic-social-environmental concerns during the various stages of the life cycle of any material.
  • This policy seeks to address the same.
  • This policy aims to reduce the resource use, minimize the adverse impacts on the environment, prevent trade-offs and problems that may arise while shifting by adopting the new and emerging concepts of resource efficiency.

Way Forward

  • While planning has always been India’s strong forte, the implementation has many shortfalls.
  • Necessary measures must be taken to integrate all the ministries concerned for efficient coordination among the stakeholders.
  • Needed steps must be taken for the efficient use of natural resources across all sectors.
  • This policy, if implemented to its fullest extent, will become the asset for India’s plans to become a $5 trillion economy.
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