The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. In this way, the life cycle of products is extended.
In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. When a product reaches the end of its life, its materials are kept within the economy wherever possible. These can be productively used again and again, thereby creating further value.
This is a departure from the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern. This model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy. Also part of this model is planned obsolescence, when a product has been designed to have a limited lifespan to encourage consumers to buy it again.
In recent years, the rapid growth of the Indian economy has been accompanied by an array of social and environmental stress factors, including population growth, political strife, rapid urbanization, food and water scarcity, environmental pollution, and climate change.
By 2050, half of India’s population will live in cities, and municipal solid waste volume is expected to triple to about 436 million metric tons (MT) .
While India has committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), termed the Agenda 2030 (U.N. 2015), progress is hampered by haphazard urban development and ineffective regulatory controls.
Moreover, the focus on long-term sustainability is often trumped by social and political turbulence, as well as unexpected disruptions such as terrorism, industrial accidents and extreme weather events.
Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the health and safety of India’s diverse population, as well as to India’s burgeoning economy. Unfortunately, the adverse impacts of these stress factors will disproportionately affect the informal sectors of the economy where hundreds of millions of lower-caste workers struggle to support themselves and their families.
Community and Circular economy
Raising community involvement in resource recovery, which the rules governing municipal, plastic and electronic waste provide for, calls for a partnership that gives a tangible incentive to households.
The current model of issuing mega contracts to big corporations — as opposed to decentralised community-level operations for instance — has left segregation of waste at source a non-starter.
On sanitation, the impressive claim of exceeding the targets for household, community and public toilets thus far obscures the reality that without water connections, many of them are unusable, and in public places, left in decrepitude.
State and municipal governments, which do the heavy lifting on waste and sanitation issues, should work to increase community ownership of the system.
As things stand, it is a long road to Open Defecation Free plus (ODF+) status for urban India, since that requires no recorded case of open defecation and for all public toilets to be maintained and functioning.
Equally, the high ambition of achieving 100% tap water supply in about 4,700 urban local bodies and sewerage and septage in 500 AMRUT cities depends crucially on making at least good public rental housing accessible to millions of people.
India is poised for growth, and it is critical to disseminate information on sustainability to all stakeholders. With mission-oriented policies such as UDAY, AMRUT, UJWALA, Swachh Bharat, and others, in combination with government initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, and Start-up India campaigns that aim to enhance competitiveness and create more jobs, India is poised for growth. MSMEs that use the Lean Management Cluster Scheme (LMCS), the Zero-effect-zero-defect (ZED) scheme, and energy efficiency schemes give a comprehensive framework for achieving sustainability through the Circular Economy (i.e. Make -Use- Return).
The world’s resources are limited. The circular economy will assist in the more effective use of resources. The key to implementing the Circular Economy is to change one’s mindset. Countries must consider what they take from the environment as well as what they provide to it. They must also make certain that the material is recycled or reused before it is discarded.
How to structure:
- Start with the definition of circular economy or give a brief intro about urban India
- Explain the significance of transforming urban India, add statistics
- Explain how as a community the principles of circular economy can be applied into transforming urban India. The keyword here is “justify”. Hence give arguments that support this argument. Also add government schemes related to it