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Governance

Policy Watch- National Resource Efficiency Policy

  • 17 Sep 2019
  • 11 min read

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has released Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP).

  • The policy envisions a future with environmentally sustainable and equitable economic growth, resource security, healthy environment and restored ecosystems with rich ecology and biodiversity.
  • The draft talks about action plans with timeframe of 3 financial years starting from 2019.
  • The policy is guided by the principles of-
    • reduction in primary resource consumption to sustainable levels
    • creation of higher value with less material through resource efficient and circular approaches
    • waste minimisation
    • creation of employment opportunities and business models beneficials to the cause of environmental protection and restoration
  • Seven sectors identified for the First NREP Action Plans-
    • Automotive Sector
    • Plastic Packaging Sector
    • Building and Construction Sector
    • Electrical and Electronic Equipment Sector
    • Solar Photo Voltaic Sector
    • Steel Sector
    • Aluminium Sector
  • Priority areas because they contribute almost 25% to Indian GDP.

Highlights of the Policy

  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) put in efforts on the issue of improving resource utilisation because even though there were different policies under different ministries, a common connecting link was missing.
  • One of the objectives is to see how the existing policies are currently working for promotion of resources, and how life cycle thinking can be promoted across the different stakeholders so that they do not feel isolated.
  • Resources which are being extracted, produced, fabricated, designed and ultimately being consumed are a kind of one unit/entity which is travelling through the various stages of the life cycle. This is a very critical thought in the formation of this policy.
  • TERI compiled a sectoral assessment of various sectors with potential opportunities and shared it with MoEFCC which prepared the draft for the policy.

How the policy ensures mainstreaming of resource efficiency in India?

  • Two major sectors of Solar Photovoltaic and Plastic Packaging has been taken up on a very large scale by the Prime Minister of India (ban on one time use plastic from 2nd October).
  • Only one ministry will not be able to meet the desired results so a wholesome process and a holistic approach by all ministries is required to get the desired results.
  • In the concept of Resource Efficiency, end product of one industry would be used as an initial product of another industry so there has to be an industrial symbiosis.
  • All the ministries would have to be on board to check the complete and total outlook of the end product and less of virgin material (materials sourced directly from nature in their raw form, such as wood or metal ores) will be used and more focus will be on the secondary resource material which can help India to achieve the five trillion dollar economy by 2024.

How to ensure reduction in primary consumption?

India’s primary consumption has increased 6 times from 1.18 billion tonnes in 1970 to approximately 17 billion tonnes in 2015.

  • Efficient use of existing resources: The size and goals of indian economy make it difficult to reduce the primary consumption but the efficiency can be increased of the existing resources which are being consumed and recycled wherever possible.
  • Fixation of the supply chain: This policy envisages to address and fix the whole supply chain.
  • Prioritisation of the issues: The disconnect between our polity and society needs to be broken down and issues with utmost priority need to occupy centre stage and centre debate.
  • Taxation and Incentivisation: The policy envisages some amount of taxation and some amount of incentives on nudging behaviour either on recycling or on secondary material reuse.

How do we get all the stakeholders on board?

  • By bringing in representatives from all the ministries involved, who are working for the different sectors or on various stages of value chain.
  • By adopting a collaborative approach to understand the challenges and to bring in the principles of 6Rs (Rethink/Reinvent, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse/Repair, Recycle and Replace/Rebuy) to work in line with the larger objective of sustainable consumption and production.
  • By spreading awareness at the top level, mainly at ministerial level about the growth of need for resources and the crucial question of where to get them from.
  • By encouraging representatives from stakeholder communities to contribute and understand the limitations and work together to overcome those limitations.

Targets of the Plan

  • To solve the need of a single coordinating force which can make an action plan to be followed by different ministries, without entering into the territory of the ministries and not becoming a threat to them.
  • This can be used as a prototype for the sectors which would be taken up after these initial seven sectors after 3 years.
  • To save our resources and finance by shunning the linear economy and adopting circular economy, major achievements can be done.
  • More focus on abiotic resources for the time being and biotic resources to be talked about in the later phases of the plan.

How to monitor the plan?

  • The action plan follows up after acceptance and adoption of the policy, setting up a board and a regulatory authority.
  • Regulatory Authority will set up rules and regulations which will govern the identified sectors, and the board will create a consensus to implement those rules and regulations.
  • This environmental policy is a consensual process so it needs to be linked to the ease of living and once that is done, different ministries can be pulled together.
  • Convincing ministries to give incentives for secondary reuse of material so that it will improve the lives of people, living conditions finally impacting ease of business and the ease of living targets.
  • Letting go of some commercial interest which will be covered by incentives with the help of political and bureaucratic leadership to mediate and ease the convincing among multiple stakeholders.

How do our businesses remain environmentally sustainable and how to create such models?

  • By looking at ways to give the product a second life, looking for ways to make secondary products more competitive in terms of its value market and finding markets of such products for consumers.
  • By creating a scale and bringing it to a level to ensure that business is sustainable in terms of economies of scale.
  • Coming up with unique models to see how this scale effect can be generated and eventually able to deliver recycled products in a more economically effective and competitive manner, and also in line with the standards of virgin materials.
  • While assigning role to economic instruments, the real test is how to make the incentives win-win opportunities for all the players in the market.
  • Focus should be to create the market and opportunities for both the markets- virgin product manufacturing and recycled product manufacturing.

Challenges

  • Such omnibus policy has so many stakeholders and often they get into inter or intra ministerial and interdepartmental conflicts or even centre-state conflicts as well.
  • Even the abiotic resources have not been realized to their full potential, leave alone the biotic resources even though both have mentions in the policy.
  • Different stages of a product's lifecycle are managed by different parts of the government, divided at central and state levels so it might be difficult to coordinate.

Suggestions

  • It needs to be translated into multiple languages so that consumers can understand the policy very well.
  • It needs to be communicated at state and city level so that people know it and demand it to work.
  • Focus on every sector equally if the plan has to be successful.

Green procurement

  • There has to be a change in the behaviour of the consumer which will be done by incentivisation of green procurement.
  • There should be an incentive on the part of the consumer and there should be assurance through audits, monitoring, verification that the product being used is a first-grade product and the money of the consumer is not wasted.
  • Creating awareness about behavioural change is important if the policy needs to be successful.

Green Procurement- It means purchasing products and services that cause minimal adverse environmental impacts. It incorporates human health and environmental concerns into the search for high-quality products and services at competitive prices.

Provides an overarching collaborative framework for resource efficiency across all sectors in the country.

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