Inclusive Circular Economy



    • Recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India launched a campaign to drive an inclusive circular economy.

    More about the news

    • Programme highlights:
      • About:
        • UNDP has launched this campaign to drive an inclusive circular economy as part of its initiative to promote sustainability
        • The project is a scale-up of existing partnership under UNDP’s flagship Plastic Waste Management Programme.
      • The initiative focuses on: 
        • The end-to-end management of plastic waste by promoting the segregation of waste at source, 
        • Collection of the segregated waste, and 
        • Setting up Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) for recycling all kinds of plastic waste along the value chain.
      • In partnership with Hindustan Unilever Limited:
        • The partnership with HUL will help build the capacities of Urban Local Bodies for adopting the MRFs or Swachhata Kendra model for plastic and dry waste management in other cities.
      • Segregation at source:
    • To ensure better waste management and recycling of plastic waste, the project will also reach out to 100,000 households for segregation at source.
    • Significance of the project: 
      • The plastic waste management programme promotes an innovative multi-stakeholder model between municipal corporations, corporates, Safai Saathis, and people to work together for cleaner and greener cities.
        • Plastic waste is one of the most concerning challenges of our times and this programme addresses it. 
        • The programme also gives Safai Saathis, the face behind the country’s waste management system, a stable income, and dignified lives.
      • To date, the UNDP-HUL partnership has 
        • Reached out to 100,000 households on source segregation, 
        • Diverted 8,000 MTs of plastic waste from landfills, and 
        • Operationalised three model Swachhta Kendras in Mumbai.

    Hazards of Plastic waste

    • Environmental pollution & Climate change:
      • Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometers to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped. 
      • Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming
        • If incinerated, its toxic compounds are spewed into the atmosphere to be accumulated in biotic forms throughout the surrounding ecosystems.
        • If incinerated, it also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.
    • Soil, water & ocean pollution:
      • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years. 
      • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. 
      • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution due to the presence of microplastics in the soil.
      • Rivers and lakes also carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution.
    • Tourism:
      • Plastic waste damages the aesthetic value of tourist destinations, leading to decreased tourism-related incomes and major economic costs related to the cleaning and maintenance of the sites.

    The Plastic Waste Management Rules in India

    • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016: 
      • It clearly stipulates that urban local bodies (ULBs) should ban less than 50 micron thick plastic bags and not allow the usage of recycled plastics for packing food, beverage or any other eatables.
      • It introduced the concept of EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) to manage plastics in India.
        • EPR means the responsibility of a producer for environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
    • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022: 
      • The guidelines on EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) coupled with the prohibition of identified single-use plastic items.
      • It banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than seventy-five microns
      • The items that will be banned are:
        • Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons and knives, straw, trays, wrapping films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100-microns and stirrers.
        • The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.

    Circular Economy (CE) 

    • About:
      • It refers to a system where there is maximum recycling and reuse of materials to ensure minimum amount of wastage.
      • In a circular economy, the focus is on ensuring minimal wastage by encouraging longer use of materials, refurbishing the used items and dematerialization.
    • CE aims at –
      • Retaining value of resources, products and materials at their highest by keeping them in use as long as possible;
      • Minimizing wastage at each life-cycle stage; and 
      • Extracting the maximum value through reusing, repairing, recovering, remanufacturing and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service value. 
    • Global recognition:
      • Circular economy as a concept has been gaining ground globally, International Telecommunication Union, World Economic Forum, the United Nations and others stressing the need to ensure minimum wastage in the electrical and electronics sectors.
    • Significance of Circular Economy:
      • Environmental Benefits:  
        • Responsible and circular resource use can also contribute towards reduction of GHG emissions and help meet the climate change commitments. 
        • Raw material security will address sustainable product package/ policy wherein material sourcing can look at addressing reducing GHG emissions, foot-print and reduced pollution. 
      • Economic Opportunity: 
        • The movement towards a circular and resource efficient design has the scope of business savings for businesses. 
        • There is a lot of economic value in e-waste, particularly from such materials as gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium, among others. 
      • Jobs Creation: 
        • Although repair, refurbishment and recycling activities are already undertaken in India, a CE action plan and associated measures towards supporting these activities has the potential to create more jobs.
      • Social Benefits: 
        • Reduced extraction pressures due to adoption of CE measures have the potential to reduce conflict and displacement in mining areas, as well as improve health and welfare of local communities. 
        • CE measures can also contribute towards preserving resources for future generations.

    Source: TH