Intention to Inception!
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
“No force on earth can stop an idea whose time has come” - Victor Hugo
The idea of ‘inclusive growth’ has become a principal doctrine of economic development in all the countries including India. It envisions a growing, equitable, sustainable, participatory and a stable economy that allows for shared prosperity. The fossil resource crunch and stringent climate change protocols are posing a challenge in achieving inclusive growth. Owing to these challenges, governments typically criticize the industry for flouting the environmental norms while expecting industry to usher economic growth. Industry on the other hand criticizes the government for enforcing stringent and implausible environmental norms. The benevolent aspect is that both government and industry care for the environment and economic growth. The academic institutions should be involved to solve this chicken or egg problem. The problems of resource crunch and adoption of stringent climate change protocols are interconnected and require prudent utilization of economic capital involving human produced and natural resources.
Waste is defined as unusable material, substances, or by-products. However, waste is still a human produced economic capital that has been generated through an industrial activity. Utilization of this economic capital can solve the resource crunch problem and also reduce the environmental burden resulting from dumping of unusable materials that are occasionally toxic. Waste is a resource that needs to be rejuvenated and brought to a usable form. The process of transforming the waste into a resource depends on its composition and variability in the composition with respect to the process parameters and it must be studied systematically. The academic institutions with their innate prowess to characterize the materials through elemental analysis can manifest the economic prospects from an unusable material. The government research agencies must then advance the technology from the feasibility stage to a demonstration stage. The industry can then adopt the demonstrated technology for subsystem development and launch operations. The involvement of all the three stakeholders, academia working at technology readiness level (TRL) 1-3, scientific research institutions working at TRL 4-6 and industry operating at TRL 7-10 is essential for ushering inclusive growth.
In India, the rise in population and rapid urbanisation are other challenges along with fossil resource crunch and adoption of Paris agreement and 2030 global development agenda protocols. These constraints impact the type and quantity of waste streams and makes waste valorisation a convoluted problem in India. With an ecological footprint that is double its bio-capacity, it is clear that with a business-as-usual approach, India will not be able to sustain the well-being of its people or natural assets. In spite of the problems, the Indian economy is seen as a bright spot in the global landscape. It is one of the fastest growing emerging market economies in the world and likely to become a $ 5 trillion economy by 2025. As the world looks towards India as a new engine of growth, the Indian economy holds the responsibility to meet the development needs of its billion-plus population, without adversely impacting its environment. The Green Economy concept is an exciting approach that links economic growth with human development and environmental sustainability, and holds much promise for India.
It is imperative that Indian academia, government agencies and industry come together by perceiving waste as a valuable resource and usher for a greener, fairer and an inclusive economy. The industry, who is the ultimate wealth creator in an economy must sponsor such collaborative efforts as it is indispensable for them to innovate in the fast-changing business environment or they will perish with time. In India, the demand for energy and fine and specialty chemicals is increasing gradually. India generates 600 million tonnes of extra biomass mainly through agriculture with an average agricultural growth rate of 10 million tonnes per hectare per year. Labour is available for economical collection and sorting of biomass. This scenario makes India uniquely poised to develop a thriving bioeconomy and reduce the dependence on imported and expensive fossil resources. It is believed that the bioeconomy can offer a unique opportunity to address interconnected challenges of resource scarcity and climate change. Innovative technologies are needed to convert the non-edible biomass to chemicals, materials, biogas, liquid biofuels, and power by cogeneration of electricity with natural gas. It’s time for India to analyse, advance and adopt indigenous technologies based on characteristics of local bio-waste and pave the way for Atmanirbhar Bharat!
Dr. Saurabh C. Patankar and
Mr. Kunal K. Godambe