NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant emphasized on the need for developing and adopting the circular economy which will help India post-COVID. “The green recovery post-COVID would not just help us to tackle environmental challenges like climate change, it would also help economic recovery through creation of jobs and opportunities,” he said.

Addressing the virtual Circular Economy Symposium 2020 of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kant said that COVID-19 is a reminder of the vulnerabilities built into the present system. “The new paradigm emphasises on taking a comprehensive view on products and processes to achieve minimization of recourse use,” he said.

According to Kant, the world is increasingly becoming conscious of the pattern and efficiencies of resource usage. “The convergence of different disciplines including industrial ecology, environmental, sustainability, and end of life of products, have all evolved to an overarching vision of CE,” he added.

Kant is of the view that within the circular economy, material recycling offers a paradigm shift from the conventional recycling techniques of incineration and landfilling into useful raw materials to be fed back to the economy instead of being disposed of in landfills.

“Recycling industry is closely integrated in different commodity sectors driven by basic supply and demand,”he said, adding material recycling is one of the building blocks of a resource efficient circular economy. Highlighting the potential of plastic recycling, Kant said that managing plastic waste continues to be a challenge and within this segment, the management of multi layered plastic is a bigger challenge.

“Domestic consumption is about 15 million tons and estimated recycling capacity is just 2.35 million tons. Therefore, recycling continues to be in the informal and unregistered units,” he said. “Low household segregation and weak collection and transportation systems that support the segregation inhibit the recycling of plastic and high plastic recycling rates need to be achieved in an environmentally sound manner,” he noted.

India consumes around 10 million tons of plastic packaging each year amounting to $13 billion in value. “Currently, we are capturing only a fraction of this value due to a number of reasons like poor packaging design, low wastes collection and inefficient recycling, etc. If the current state continues, in the next 10 years we will be losing around $133 billion,” he added.

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