Circular economy is a system-focused model of operations, which involves processes that are restorative or regenerative by design, enable resource-use in processes and activities to maintain their highest values for as long as possible, and aim for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products and systems, including business models. The Government of India has been prioritising circularity in recent years through policy amendments, by focusing on higher resource-use efficacy and scientific waste management. The Draft National Resource Policy (NREP) 2019 is guided by the principles of reducing primary resource consumption to ‘sustainable’ levels, with high resource-use efficiency and creating higher values with circular approaches. The NITI Aayog has identified eleven focus areas and formed inter-ministerial committees to facilitate transition from a linear to a circular economy approach for these areas.
Adopting circularity has become imperative for businesses not only for compliance to the evolving regulatory requirements, but also for building resilience towards eventualities like indiscriminate resource extraction, volatile geopolitics and sensitivities in the supply chain, which may result in acute resource scarcity or price fluctuations. In addition to sustainability-conscious western markets targeted by Indian industries, domestic consumers are also gradually becoming more aware, and demanding businesses to be more responsible in consuming and managing resources. Corporates, through innovative circularity-oriented systems and processes, can access greater opportunities for profit through material cost savings and reduced environmental impacts, while further propelling their growth. Corporate strategies may vary – depending on the ambition of the organisation, size of their business, sectoral focus and the maturity of the ecosystem to support their objectives. Initiatives that relate to circular economy are broadly within the spectrum of a ‘9-R concept’ which include:
- the 3-Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) at the basic level with a wide range of applications
- 3-Rs (recover, redesign, and remanufacture) that prompts introspection into business processes and innovation
- additional 3-Rs (refurbish, repair, and refuse) that involves mature ecosystem and cross-overs between businesses and sectors.
Leveraging our exhaustive experience of working with various Government and corporate entities on different aspects of circular economy, we envision a holistic approach for navigating the transition to circular economy. Given the current environmental and market imperatives, we foresee the need to lower the use of virgin material or resources in provision of goods and services, and maximise value across the product life cycle. These need to be taken up urgently by businesses if they are to achieve greater competitiveness in the market in the long run. PwC provides services across the circularity process chain which include: