Transcript: India and the Circular Economy (Part 1) with Lucyl Staub
SEE THE SHOW NOTES AND LISTEN AT: India and the Circular Economy (Part 1) with Lucyl Staub
Katie Whalen [00:00:01] Welcome back to the Getting in the Loop Podcast. I'm your host, Katie, and this is a special two part episode where we're learning about the state of Circular Economy in India.
[00:00:17] Hi, I'm Katie Whalen and join me each week as I talk with experts around the globe about Circular economy. You'll find out what's being done to make it a reality and if it can really solve the problems it promises. It's time for Getting in the Loop.
[00:00:37] Today, we're doing something different. I feel like I say that a lot. But this one is a never before for the Getting in the Loop Podcast because we're going to have a special guest host, Lucille Staub. Lucille is a young waste management and circular economy professional. She recently graduated with a master's of science in environmental management and policy from the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics in Sweden. She also holds a master's of science in business administration from Grenoble Business School. Lucille and I worked in collaboration on this episode and she will take over from me and then a lot of the episode guiding us through interviews with experts to discover more about how India is moving towards a circular economy. In part one of this two part episode, so this episode, we will discover the current state of Circular economy in India and in next week's episode. So part two, we will hear more about the future of Circular economy in India, as well as Lucille's research that brought her to India in the first place. This episode is a great follow up to episode number five, Why Asia is key to the Future of Circular economy with Adriana Zach. And we have to give a thank you to Adriana for putting us actually in contact with some of the interview E's in this episode. You can find Adriana's episode as well as links to other resources mentioned in this episode in the show, notes on our Web site at GettingintheLoopPodcast.com. Now, without further ado, let's kick off this two-part episode on the state of Circular Economy in India.
[00:02:20] Before we get started with today's episode, I wanted to tell you about something awesome. If you're giving presentations related to Circular economy or if you just want to learn a little bit more about Circular economy basics, head over to slidedeck.gettinginthelooppodcast.com to grab a free presentation that I've created based off of presentations that I've given over the course of the last couple of years. And what it is is you can use it as a starting point for your own presentation. So it's PowerPoint presentation, you can add or adapt your own slides into it, or you can just go through the presentation and learn a little bit more about the basics behind Circular economy. So it's 20 slides. It starts off with why we need a circular economy, what is the concept and how can we implement this in practice, and then at the end it finishes with some links to different reports and other resources so you can learn a little bit more on your own. Okay. So now onto today's podcast.
Katie Whalen [00:03:18] Awesome. Well, hi, Lucille. I am so excited for you to be here for this two-part episode and you are our special guest host. Before we talk about today's episode and also part two, which will be released next week. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Lucyl Staub [00:03:38] Yeah, sure. Thanks so much, Katie, for such a great opportunity. Well, I'm a recent graduate from the actual management and Policy and masters of the International Institute for Industrial Energy Economics, which is at Lynn University in Sweden. And I have a special interest in the Circular economy end, which is a field that I hope to growing professionally.
Katie Whalen [00:03:58] Yes, I hope so, too, for the listeners who might have made the connection. Lucille is a recent graduate of the institute where I am also working. So that's a little bit about how we know each other. And Lucille did great work for her master's thesis, which she graduated just this past September. October, I believe is right at the end of September. Maybe it was even October. And we're going to hear a little bit more about that in the next part of this two part episode. But before we do that, let's set the stage for this episode. So what can we expect to hear in Part 1?
Lucyl Staub [00:04:39] Well, and in this episode you'll hear from four different experts with strong experience, either within an industry or with working with Indian policymakers on the topic of Circular economy through these four different interviews. You'll get an overall understanding of how the concept of the circular economy has been interpreted in India and what are the implications of the circular economy principles in the Indian economy. Mostly looking at special and just all sectors that I think frustrating that transition.
Katie Whalen [00:05:08] Okay. Well, I'm looking forward to hearing from the interviewees in a couple of minutes, but maybe you could just share some of in your own words, some key takeaways that you had from interviewing with these experts.
Lucyl Staub [00:05:22] Yeah, sure. I think probably is free takeaways that can be taken from this first episode and the first one is that despite a growing intent to implement the Circular economy into this deal, the poor and dissenting of the circular economy truly means at its core.
[00:05:40] And indeed, even if we've been hearing from our juries that we can feel the circular economy is being pushed so in doubt, which is great news, there's still a lot that can be done. And the principle of the circular economy have to be better and extend at all levels of society. And this is mostly because today we see that recycling is still the predominant strategy and it's not going a little bit further than that. And so a big takeaway is that we need to grow awareness of what Circular economy transition truly means in practice and to grow that awareness at all levels of Indian society.
[00:06:17] The second take away is probably to to understand that the application of the Circular economy principles has mostly been performed either by large corporations in India or within the starting the startup space.
[00:06:31] We don't see enough action being taken at the SMB level. And to me that's very interesting because that raised an important question is how do we make sure that any physician is inclusive to all type of businesses? And why are we in such a situation? Is it because his lack of awareness, because his lack of resources? Because there is and complexity of potential business belittles coexisting in the same time? Or is it lack of customer demand or lack of incentive? So I think that grows many different questions that could be further studied. And lastly, the third takeaway, which I think is pretty interesting, is that we've been well here in a couple of minutes.
[00:07:13] Numerous examples of sectors in specific industry sectors that have been engaging in a circular economy transition and these sectors where most of their supply, business model, exploitation and implementation is taking place. Our industries from a textile, plastic packaging, cement, steel, as well as the construction and building sector. And I think this is good to just remember and keep in mind to understand what Circular economy means hanging down. And I think as our circular economy enthusiast, it's exciting to see that change.
Katie Whalen [00:07:46] Definitely. Wow, what a great summary, Lucille, and I can't wait to hear these interviews and the discussions. I'm curious what surprises. Anything surprise you when you were discussing this issue and kind of uncovering Circular economy in India?
Lucyl Staub [00:08:07] Well, because I had the opportunity to do some work on the Circular economy in India. I've done quite some readings before. I was able to go on the ground and interview these four experts. So I was not very surprised at what came within the conversation. But there is definitely one thing that surprised me a lot is how enthusiastic the circular economy professionals I had the chance to meet or to be in touch with for this episode where they can really feel a big enthusiasm to share their knowledge on the circular economy, the passion and the work they've been doing to achieve that transition. And I thought this is a very dynamic and also in a sense, fertile ecosystem growing. So that I was very empowering to be part of that experience.
Katie Whalen [00:08:59] That's great. Okay. Well, now I'm gonna handed over to Lucille to take us away and special guest host the episode on uncovering the Circular Economy in India.
Lucyl Staub [00:09:11] Awesome. But before we get into the details of this episode, I just would like to tell you a little bit more about the four expert will have the chance to hear from today. The first expert is Ulhas Parlikar. Ulhas is a global consultant in the areas of Waste Management, Circular Economy, Policy Advocacy, as well as alternative fuels and raw materials. He has more than 36 years of experience and has work for Unilever, National Peroxide, as well as superannuated as Director of Geocycle Business. The second expert will have the chance to to discuss the topic of Circular economy India is Archana Datta. Archana has recently joined the United Nations Environment Program as project coordinator for Switch-Asia Regional Policy Advocacy Coordination. She has over 10 years of experience on mainstreaming and capacity building in the Circular economy field in Life Cycle management, as well as climate change mitigation. And actually, before joining the U.N. environment, she's been working for FICCI, that's when I had the chance to meet her and talk to her, as the deputy director of FICCI being in India Industry Association. Then we'll have the chance to hear from Yogesh Bedi. Yogesh is a Steel Industry veteran and has over 30 years of experience in that field. He's been supported many hats in the functions of engineering and projects, marketing and sales strategy and business transformation, as well as finance and business analysis. Currently, Yogesh is pioneering the steel recycling business in India for Tata Steel. And lastly, let's hear more about Rajat Batra. Rajat is passionate about empowering enterprises to do better with less and work towards sustainable growth. He's a co-founder and technical lead at SUSTENT Consultancy in Stenum Asia in both training, consultancy, audit and implementation support for enterprises. He's been actively practicing resource efficient cleaner production at various levels for over a decade, having undergone extensive training on sustainable development in Europe.
[00:11:15] Now that we know more about our participants let's dig dive into the topic of this episode. To understand what's the state of the Circular economy in India? One of my first question to our experts is to understand how the principles and the concept of circular economy have been interpreted in the country so far. Let's now hear Julis sharing his perspective on that question.
Ulhas Parlikar [00:11:41] You know, the concept of circular economy in terms of the Indian context, I would say has been more or less seem like everywhere else. If you look at the olden days, I think it was it was a very business as usual situation in India also, as it was that in other countries. Only thing is auto beat it off time. Because of this some industrial so-called revolution which happened last time in 50 years plus, you know, everybody changed the direction from secular to economic to do linear economy. And in India, also, the same thing has happened. And it prevails. It continues being that it will be open country still. I think the trends are still moving in the direction of the linear economic.
[00:12:39] But in terms of the understanding. And the impacts of the limited economy and the relevance of circular economy to be. I think this lock which is happening in the country. If you look at the the policymaking bodies in the country, whether it is the ministries or whether it is the forums which are which are working, I think that substantially knowledgeable, enlightened on this aspect. If you look at the administer the academic institutions, yes, they are. And everybody is interested in moving towards the Circular economy. The policies which have been put forward in place, notified by the government that also all addressing the the the the radius requirements. Aligned to the Circular economy Labor. It has not got deep rooted into the systems, whether it is people at large, whether it is implementing bodies, and therefore I think there are a lot of hurdles, challenges in inputting systems in place. So I think that is what does the situation they think is that of the government, of the of the administrative bodies, of the academic institutions, about the industries. Everybody but to get it implemented. I think the mystery drives. I'm not there. As of now, very few I mean, only islands of excellence. I would say which are operating in this direction.
Lucyl Staub [00:14:20] Let's see now if this perspective is also shared by Yogesh Bedi, the director after recycling.
Yogesh Bedi [00:14:27] Circular economy is a concept with far reaching implications, and the same is true for the country. We have to treat it as a finite resource, as a warrior. As it is this, traditionally, it is not only future as an infinite resort, as a way of sources, but also an finite dumping ground of these. So right from the top is resource conservation imperative advocated by the Circular economy through longer use for life of the product. B reuse, refurbish, share, etc.. There is a cost implication not only in the form of lower raw material cost, but also through waste management and disposal costs. Implementing the Circular economy also has a huge potential to create jobs. Often it was that it was logistics and supply chain which is difficult to do mechanize. And large scale employment is possibly. Then, of course, there's an overarching logic because of sustainability and carbon emissions. The Indian government has really initiated into the Circular economy concept and is driving the requisite policy for implementation of the CE.
Lucyl Staub [00:15:39] But is this the case for other industries, Dan Datta? Let's hear about what's being talked about at FICCI with Archana Datta.
Archana Datta [00:15:48] Based on this not interaction within the industry, because that is only just being called wrong, we feel that C is still not understood to exclude a lot of discussion still revolve around refurbishing, recycling, introducing and very minuscule amount of discussion is happening around the rethinking and moving to the effect where the body design aspects. So a lot of good rules would in design for circularity is still a missing us. Step in. We'll see you later. Discussions which are happening right now and personally feel that the focus should shift from an action and attention on closing the loop at the end of the lifecycle to people stopping from the design and from the very beginning of the product stage. But this does not mean that the current efforts are not sufficient enough or they're not required. They are also required because we can our team does all production process overnight. Guess the design and the rethinking reinvention part of it has to be taken up more.
Lucyl Staub [00:16:51] And finally, let's hear about Rajat's perspective on the question.
Rajat Batra [00:16:57] Sure. Circular economy, of course, as the terminology is relatively I think the principles were there on the wrong foot. We speak for sustainability as a whole and in the context of India. Unfortunately, if you go to a conference on sustainability today. More than half of the topics are still limited to a set of. What we would like to see is to expand that understanding, to have people incorporate sustainable business models, enhancing product lives. And, you know, going from. Carter, to service those kind of shifts are still not being talked about, even at conferences which are specifically on Circular economy. It's not to say that it's not happening. There are many examples. Large business corporations like the Tata Group, Mahindra. They have taken a leadership role in this. There are, of course, many small businesses also following Circular business models in India.
[00:18:18] We, of course, you know, we have big names like Uber and then the actual one or LA. In Europe, you probably used all our taxi services. But there's also this concept of clothing rental. You know, it's picking up. So it's quite interesting. But I think there's a big gap between that real understanding of what it's like to the business markets and what circular economy.
Lucyl Staub [00:18:44] So once we've understood what Circular economy means at the current Indian context, I wanted to know more about what type of organizations sector is our industries are driving that change in the country. And to answer that question, Ulhas first gave us an overall perspective of actions being taken at the policy level, at the industry level and also at the research institute level.
Ulhas Parlikar [00:19:14] There are many initiatives which are happening. I would say by the passionate young, you know, entrepreneurs who are coming up into the market. There are many, many new applications which are being seen. Are many new enterprises was trying to see how can they recycle, refurbish the materials? How can they bring clean, recyclable processes in place? There's a lot of, you know, drive towards collection of recyclable materials segregating. And there are several initiatives which are happening in almost every C.P., as you'll see today. So in terms of, I think, approach a lot of things that are happening. There is, if you look at probably the municipal sector, the government is driving this through the switch. Beyond that, they have subways which are conducted every year. There is a categorization which is happening in terms of who is good, was bad. What is the ranking, et cetera, et cetera. This this evaluation is pretty, pretty open, really transparent and quite, quite. I would say inboard, which is happening. So that's it, right? Which is happening. I would say which is also trying to get the D D society at large on both with the requirements. If you look at the industrial sector, I think there is this could be love and excitement. Because of the policy framework, which is seen as an allergy, it isn't happening in bits and pieces in terms of, you know, tightening the regulations, pushing the industries to improve their use that reduce their own wish ambitions, trying to convert. To buy byproducts or, you know, trying to align one industry with another. So there are initiatives which are happening. So if you look at, for example, if we take these sector up for cement like so which is I think one of the most advanced in the country wearing, you know, a large amount of fly ash. Plus, almost 50 million tons of lashes utilized in this Indian cement industry as a as important source. Almost about 10 billion tonnes of slag from steel investing is classed as a resource, a large amount. Both, you know, many spills that I would waste is also slowly going into this. There are several negative culture risks which are non-cash repeat. They're also being utilized. There are several hazardous waste which are also being. So there's a policy drive towards that, which is which is that making things happen, the same thing is also happening in other industries. If you look at the pharmaceutical industry, people are slowly moving from the hazardous processes to the cleaner processes, the green, the process by by by engaging themselves with the green chemistry. So you'll find that the entire industry is not really excited to utilize the green chemistry and more efficient processes in place. Unlike the older ones, there are also several innovations research activities which are happening at institutions due to go for non hazardous systems and processes. There's a trend also in terms of the on implementing the waste management hierarchy as much as possible and moving it up, whatever you are doing today. And there's a drive towards that from good legislation as well. So I think there is a lot of which is happening. It's not so prevalent in the I would say, in these small or medium sector industries yet. But the large nasty sector, the multinational sector, the sector, which is which is I would say to enlighten you, would improve these medium or small scale. I think things that are happening.
Lucyl Staub [00:23:43] Some of these perspectives are also being shared by Archana Datta from FICCI. Archana is about to represent us which industries are leading the circular economy change in India and how FICCI has been supporting that change.
Archana Datta [00:23:57] Circular economy in India, there is a lot of discussion which is happening at industry level as well as government level. Government is starting to come up with policy around resource efficiency and economy. In fact, they will be cities, their draft policy, which is in place for public comments from industry perspective. Industry has already most of the industry, I would say. So they are already exploring how in which business models around Circular economy can be explored. A lot of examples from an industry. If we take, for example, large enterprise Mahindra is doing a lot of stuff. They're experimenting with the sharing model. Is that experimenting with a new startup which is going to manage waste? They have for a lot of their plants, they have a policy around zero waste to landfills. I think they are one of those for trying and exploding the seam or the CCC is another big company which is doing a lot of good job in the space. A lot of innovation is also happening in stock space in India. Startups like Banyan Nation, startups like Eco Bear, which is bio based and fully biodegradable cutlery manufacturing company companies let fly at all, but also there, which is the clothing rental platform. So there is a lot of innovation in latest business models being destroyed out in startup space on sale. So there are a lot of examples of which are available from the large enterprise and from the startup space. But in between, I think there is a lot which can be done in terms of full set. So. We talk about fixing. Those are progressing the most towards Circular economy. I believe we see this making plastics and they love. There is a lot of discussion paying attention. So I see business models which are being currently explored by the industries that are looking in the sector. CMB also has a good pertain to it then not much in the way can currently be seen. Q In terms of examples of companies and organizations, what for implementing seeing India? We also see we also launched. Also launched the first edition of India Circular economy Awards. This year we received around took the applications, which is a good number to say their wedding dress from around 60 or organization, but because of certain criteria they could not. So we did application, but then they are preparing themselves for the next round of the awards estimates of that number. It is a lot about what the current status of circular economy dimensions is happening in India.
Lucyl Staub [00:26:41] Are there any other examples that can be taken to illustrate the acceleration of the circular economy in the country? Let's hear about what Rajat has to say on this question.
Rajat Batra [00:26:53] Yes. So I think steel is one where there's a lot of systematic effort when traditionally recycling of steel or recovery of steel was left to the informal sector and now large corporates are developing business models specifically for this and there.
[00:27:17] So they will ensure higher efficiency and shorter, less leakages and also retaining the quality of the steel. And that's, I think, the real principle, or rather that's that distinction between simple recycling and looking at it as a business model from those circular economy perspectives that you understand the value of the material. And normally that value will down. So I think the construction and demolition waste, that's something that's attracting interest. There are some efforts to utilize the construction demolition waste for making some non-critical products are non structural products. So there are of course, rules, municipal and municipal solid waste pools of India actually in clearly defined that are municipal corporations need to have facilities for this. These rules have been there for several years, but now they're starting to be some movement on that.
[00:28:25] There are many instances of that that we see, of course, the one that's attracting a lot of attention globally. And it's probably the poster boy of Circular economy is plastic packaging, plastic packaging, using a lot of effort and a lot of initiatives. We have the concept of producer responsible organizations to support the extended producer responsibility elements which are being imposed on prosthetic packaging users. I remember reading this a short news article a few days ago about how misled in doing a pilot and one of the Hills districts of India.
[00:29:10] May you return? I think an empty packets of Maggie noodles and you get a full and complete package for yourself as a consumer. Connect. So if this is adopted by other. Large corporate and I think this whole concept of. Plastic packaging will gain a lot of attention. The other industry where we see initiatives is the textile industry. The alliance has done a lot of work on yarn production using the fibers or used fibers coming back into the yarn, except.
[00:29:52] And of course, at the consumer end that are the well-established brands like each in. They entered into and then leave out to Marks and Spencers is offering these kind of schemes for payback of clothes and making sure that it goes to the highest value of that rather than just converted to energy, for example, I mean, that's obviously the least preferred more. So, yeah, there is these other industry sectors that we think some progress is happening.
Lucyl Staub [00:30:31] So we've just heard that the steel industry is concerned is a very good example of the acceleration of the circular economy in the.
[00:30:39] Well, let's hear a little bit more from that example with Yogesh Bedi, the director of the cell recycling.
Yogesh Bedi [00:30:45] The utilization of slack generated the steel making process is one of the best examples of circular economy the world. The two types of selective police indicate the blast furnace slag and the steam slick. A year both these flags did not have any use and would be dumped in the vicinity of Steve Plant's. Then to condemn this are indeed the use of blast from the slap was good luck. It found Buffett using the civic industry, so much so. That the blast from this leg is now in great demand and there is zero dumping and wastage simultaneously to use the requirement of calcium carbonate. The meat, the opportunity for segment and thereby the cost of segment. The next problem was the steel slack for many years, even after the blast furnace, like pundits use it. This continued to be one of the chronic problems of the steel industry. The dumps soon started turning into heaps and then in the mountains of slack. Finally, the same has found its use, too, and is used now as aggregate in building of roads. This reduces the need for a rock mining, which is required for aggregates, for drinking. The example of Circular economy is the recycling of steel which is the business that I'm sitting on.
[00:32:08] The traditional blast furnace of steel making is carbon heavy, natural resource heavy, energy heavy, etc., as against the seam. The recycling of steel uses about 60 percent less of resources, consume 60 percent less less of energy and emits 50 to 60 percent less of carbon. The steel scrap, of course, comes from industries and play favorites and from obsolete household items such as white goods, furniture, refrigerators, etc. The recycling of these items completes the loop of circular economy.
Katie Whalen [00:32:44] That's all four part one of our two part episode about Circular economy in India with special guest host Lucyl Staub. Tune in next week as will uncover more about the future of Circular economy in India and hear from Lucille about her research on off the grid solar panels and what is being done to make them circular. See you next week.
About the Show
Getting In the Loop is a weekly podcast dedicated to exploring how to transform to a more circular society. Join host Katie Whalen as she examines the challenges facing our current resource use and discovers alternatives to the ‘take, make, dispose’ way of doing things. Each week she interviews circular economy experts about what they’re doing and learning. Together we'll uncover what circular economy means in practice and find out what's being done to keep our resources in a loop rather than sent to waste.