Propelling companies towards building a Sustainable India through Circular Economy
Businesses today hold an enormous potential to transform the global economy into a sustainable one by re-inventing their business models from linear to circular – by changing the way we make, buy and consume goods. As societies become more environmentally conscious; businesses are following suit to tackle immediate global challenges like resource depletion and climate change through re-inventing business practices in industrialized systems.
Recycling waste offers businesses an opportunity to reduce the consumption of materials. For instance, Indian urban areas generate significant construction and demolition waste. The construction industry can find economic and environmental benefits, by finding uses for these materials that would otherwise go to landfills or get dumped in the streets as recycled aggregates tend to generate 40% less GHG emissions than the processing of virgin aggregates.
The Indian cement industry through the adoption of Circular Economy (CE) is well placed to create a robust impact across sectors to reduce waste to tackle climate change and reduce its carbon footprint. Over the past few decades, cement manufacturers have been primarily focusing on creating a circular loop through propagating sustainable supply chain practices, creating recovery opportunities, and offering recycling initiatives towards reducing climate impact over the past few years. Companies like ACC have managed to bring emissions below 500 kg per tonne because of their additional concerted efforts with key stakeholders.
Today, it is one of the best performing industries across various sectors in terms of energy efficiency, quality control, environmental sustainability, and adaptive in venturing into new sustainable technologies through the CE model. While the cement industry can play a key role in reducing their 7% of global emission footprint; mobilising other sectors to adopt the CE model can help attain an overall 48% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions globally by 2030.
WHY THINK CIRCULAR?
Setting up a CE model within your business framework will benefit business, society, and the environment while simultaneously eliminating waste and decoupling that development from the consumption of finite resources. Take the case of the Indian construction industry for instance. The sector consumes roughly about 40 billion tonnes of raw materials from the planet yearly making it responsible for over 30% of the extraction of natural resources and 25% of solid waste generated in the world. By adopting the CE model, the construction industry is managing the materials in a closed loop to retain their maximum value, thereby enabling significant potential of reducing waste generation and resource extraction.
By using a circular economy approach in an organisation, not only can aid businesses to reduce their carbon footprint but help to capitalise on the value of their resources to save money, improve performance and build new relationships. As a sustainably versatile industry, cement production actively utilises waste from municipalities and companies to co-process high amounts of energy from waste as a fuel to heat the kiln and replacing primary mineral materials in cement with fractional mineral traces from waste.
Adopting an eco-friendly approach of CE could help India Inc. stay ahead of the curve when it comes to government legislation; allowing them to keep pace with new requirements and exceed industry standards. In India, the impetus to substitute coal in the production of clinker for cement is imperative and largely being driven by the government’s Swachh Bharat Mission directive to use alternative fuels and raw materials (AFR). As the cement manufacturing process itself supports environmentally sustainable waste utilization due to high-temperature incineration without leaving any residue, hence it is acting as a backbone for waste generating industries.
While many Indian companies have policies around emissions, waste management, and water efficiency; there has been a massive disparity in resource and waste management. Research shows that 92% of Indian companies are actively adopting waste reduction policies however only 31% have specific waste reduction targets. By establishing the Circular Economy model, businesses can recapture the enormous volume of resources within their value chain and help address the gap between policy implementation and measuring the impact made thus far.
Today companies embedding circular economy models have garnered a reputation for being positive disruptors and have a tremendous advantage over their peers when it comes to attracting talent and engaging their employees. Government and regulatory bodies through initiatives like Smart Cities have tremendous potential to enable businesses to transition to the adoption of circular economy and redefine their growth story and at the same time create positive environmental and societal benefits. Through the adoption of a circular approach, India Inc. can transition from the ‘take-make-waste approach and create sustainability for the future – both for the environment and for their ongoing viability.