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            In today’s world of manufacturing raw materials are taken from the environment , turned in to new products which are then disposed after use. This is a linear process with a being and an end and in this process limited raw materials will eventually run out. Also waste accumulated in this process incurs additional expenses related to its disposal and pollution. In a circular economy however products are designed for durability, reuse and recyclability. In this process almost everything is reused, remanufactured, recycled back in to a raw material or used as a source of energy. Experts say that by embarking on a circular economy transformation, India can build a more resource efficient system even as it continues to grow and scale new heights.


Circular Economy:

  • A circular economy (often referred to simply as “circularity”) is an economic system aimed at eliminating waste and the continual use of resources.
  • Circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed system, minimising the use of resource input and the creation of waste, pollution and emissions.
  • The circular economy aims to keep products, equipment and infrastructure in use for longer, thus improving the productivity of resources.
  • All ‘waste’ should become ‘food’ for another process: either a by-product or recovered resource for another industrial process, or as regenerative resources for nature, eg compost.
  • This regenerative approach is in contrast to the traditional linear economy, which has a ‘take, make, dispose’ model of production.
  • Proponents of the circular economy suggest that a sustainable world does not mean a drop in the quality of life for consumers, and can be achieved without loss of revenue or extra costs for manufacturers.
  • The argument is that circular business models can be as profitable as linear models, allowing us to keep enjoying similar products and services.


Circular economy principles:

There are ten principles that define how circular economy should work:

  • Waste becomes a resource: is the main feature. All the biodegradable material returns to the nature and the not biodegradable is reused.
  • Second use: reintroduce in the economic circuit those products that no longer correspond to the initial consumers needs.
  • Reuse: reuse certain products or parts of those products that still work to elaborate new artifacts.
  • Reparation: find damage products a second life.
  • Recycle: make use of materials founded in waste.
  • Valorization: harness energy from waste that can’t be recycled.
  • Functionality economy: circular economy aims to eliminate the sale of products in many cases to establish a system of rental property. When the product completes its main function returns to the company, where it is dismantled for reusing the valid parts.
  • Energy from renewable sources: elimination of fossil fuels to produce the product, reuse and recycle.
  • Eco-design: considers and integrates in its conception the environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of a product.
  • Industrial and territorial ecology: establishment of an industrial organizational method in a territory characterized by an optimized management of stocks and flows of materials, energy and services.


India’s initiatives:

With mission oriented policies such as UDAY, UJWALA, Swachh Bharat, etc in combination with government initiatives like Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India campaigns which aim to enhance competitiveness and create more jobs, India is poised for growth and it is important to disseminate information on sustainability to all stakeholders. MSMEs utilizing Lean Management cluster Scheme(LMCS), Zero-effect- zero-defect (ZED) scheme and schemes for Energy efficiency provide a comprehensive frame work to attain sustainability using the Circular Economy approach (i.e. Make -Use- Return).


The challenge to put circular consumption into practice can be addressed by:

  • Adopting a triple bottom line approach and the 3R principles which are based on Reduce, Recycle, Reuse, Make and Use.
  • Using various capacity building interventions.
  • Adopting mission mode policy approaches at the government level.


Future actions required to lead the way to transition to circular economy

  • To consider discarded materials/ products as legitimate raw materials with circular economy approach.
  • Buildings can be designed to be adaptable to changing needs and contribute to the regenerative urban ecosystem.
  • Combining local knowledge and traditional methods (like working with a large variety of species) with modern technology (like precision farming, and digitally enabled asset and knowledge-sharing system).
  • Building vehicles that rely on zero-emission propulsion technology could reduce GHG emission, pollution, and dependence on imported fossil fuels.
  • Indian businesses can foster innovation to address challenges more rapidly by collaborating with research institutions.
  • Collaboration among stakeholders to address key issues to achieve systemic change. For example, inroads to addressing India’s solid waste management challenge could be made by connecting all kinds of actors along the value chain.
  • Tapping activities of the informal economy (e.g existing repair and recycling activities for vehicles), in cooperation with the public sector or other organizations.



India knows how to manage resources when it comes to sorting, separating, and the other low hanging fruits. But, when it comes to advanced technologies, there is scope for India to incorporate some expertise. This can be done by creating a nexus between the research institutions and industry. There is a need for a coherent roadmap that ushers mutually complementary and boosting transition towards a circular economy. This is an opportunity which India should harness, to take the lead in a circular model of development—sans sacrificing economic growth.

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