Author: sEaNERGIA Baltic Cluster

 India is another region of great interest for the ECCA members to introduce their circular economy based products and services. Recent initiatives by businesses, government bodies, and non-profits in India show alignment with the principles of a circular economy. These initiatives include vehicle-sharing schemes, investments in renewable energy, and programmes to train farmers to understand and adopt regenerative practices. What is more, key aspects of a circular economy are deeply rooted in the habits of India’s people – e.g. high utilisation and repair of vehicles and distributed recovery and recycling of materials post-use. Due to these reasons and the national context described below, there are great opportunities for the circular economy activities in India in the upcoming years, however  this approach requires a lot of engagement from the policy makers.

Construction industry is one of the largest sources of employment in India, together with agriculture accounting for around 60% of the working population and are responsible for the vast majority of India’s raw materials consumption. Additionally, construction and vehicle manufacturing are expecting huge growth over the next decades.

What’s more, by 2050, 60% of India’s population will live in urban areas – up from about 30% today. Urbanisation is happening at an unprecedented pace. Growth is so rapid that 70% of the building stock that will be used in 2030 is yet to be built and choices made today will determine India’s mid- to long term development. Applying circular economy principles to developing this vast amount of infrastructure and building stock could create annual benefits

of ₹4.9 lakh crore (US$ 76 billion) in 2050.[1] The Indian construction sector is poised to become the third largest globally. Already creating more than 8% of GDP, this highly fragmented and largely informal sector will play an increasingly important role as the population demand for buildings expands. The affordable housing shortage is expected to reach about 38 million units by 2030. To meet the needs of its rapidly urbanising population, India must build 700-900 million square metres of new commercial and residential space every year – the equivalent of what now exists in Chicago.[2] The construction industry offers significant opportunities to gradually decouple economic growth from the consumption of finite materials and non-renewable energy. The global construction industry is the single largest consumer of resources and raw materials, and in India, construction accounts for about 20% of total material demand.

Additionally, and in line with global averages, construction and demolition waste is significant, generating about one third of India’s total solid waste. India generates around 12 million tonnes of C&D waste annually and by 2041, India is likely to generate 2.7 billion tonnes of C&D waste. A large quantity of C&D waste is currently landfilled and/or dumped in the open. However, as a recent initiative in New Delhi illustrates, recycling of C&D waste can contribute to closing the material loop in India’s urban construction sector. Since 2009, the local authorities of New Delhi started collecting C&D waste separately and recycling it. There are two C&D waste processing plants at Burari and Shastri Park in New Delhi. The plants recycle about 95% of incoming waste into useful products, such as aggregates of various sizes, bricks, pavement blocks, and kerbstones. Recycled products from C&D waste are found to be of acceptable quality and are up to 20-30% cheaper than conventional building materials.[3] Currently, cities in India are growing rapidly and similar to the New Delhi approaches will be followed in the foreseeable future.

When it comes to energy, the Indian building industry consumes almost 34% of the country’s total energy, making it one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.[4] Energy consumption by residential buildings is predicted to rise more than eight-fold by 2050, with annual electricity use per household predicted to increase from 650 kWh in 2012 to 2750 kWh by 2050. Transforming building design and rethinking the resources used in construction can contribute to the creation of resilient cities, decoupled from the consumption of virgin, non-renewable materials. Focused government initiatives suggest that the time is ripe for Indian cities to embrace circular economy approaches (exemplary initiatives of the Indian government: the Smart Cities Mission, development of industrial corridors, the Swachh Bharat Mission, and city renewal schemes like the 500 AMRUT cities).[5]


[2] Ibidiem, p.30

[3] Advancing the circular economy in Asia (Winter 2016/2017), the SWITCH-Asia Network Facility, p.37

[4] Ibidiem, p.30

[5] Ibidiem, p.30

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