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Published:Monday, May 20, 2019 1:06 PM

Step towards Resource Efficiency in Indian Energy Territory

Step towards Resource Efficiency in Indian Energy Territory

What exactly is Resource Efficiency?
Resource efficiency is one of the key elements of sustainable development. According to TERI, “resource efficiency is an approach that optimizes material consumption at every step of value chain of resources”. It is primarily one of the best strategies to realize the larger goal of circular economy framework that promotes Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refurbish, Redesign and Remanufacture. Circular economy is a pathway to resource-constrained countries with inadequate development. The central idea is generating as little waste as possible and converting the same into useful products. The future of the world needs to be strengthened by resource use efficiency.
Why there is a need for Resource Efficiency?
The choices that we make today determine our future. The communities around the world have well understood the fact that their tomorrow must be healthy enough than yesterday. India as a developing nation though has small material footprint but it is facing negative impacts of age long material-intensive growth model that has led to falling under-ground water levels, polluted air and abrupt change in weather conditions. As country strides towards achieving high economic growth, the upper-middle income factor will surge material consumption as well and hence would worsen the prevailing situation. Moreover, the ambition for constant economic growth where elimination of poverty and elevation of living standards are the focal points, but this has enormously increased the use of resources such as metals & non-metals, fossil fuels, biomass. The rate at which the resources are being extracted and consumed today around the world is not promising asustainable future for coming generations. The recent assessment done by International Resource Panel discovers that extraction and processing of fossil fuels, materials and even food are majorly responsible for more than 90% loss of biodiversity and water stress and about half of total greenhouse gas emissions. If the countries around the world desire to meet their commitments of Paris agreement on climate change and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the shift to a sustainable consumption and production approach must be acquired by embracing resource efficiency approach. It is an opportune time to replace yesterday’s “resource intensive approach” with “resource efficiency approach” that could also be recognized as a sustainable approach.
How it can be useful?
In a view to realize the motive of circular economy, TERI has recently recommended implementation of Integrated Resource Efficiency Approach in India could potentially save 21 MT of iron ore, 8.25 MTs of coking coal imports, 4.5 MT of slag generation and 3.75 MT of limestone.
As a matter of fact, India lags in low recycling rate when compared to developed nations with a difference as much as of 25%. There is a need for governing body like Bureau of Energy Efficiency to advocate policy & programme in line with resource efficiency. A focus on economic and market-based instruments/ options is also required. In a bid to roll-out new sustainable options, adequate demand for the same would have to be created where the new options will initially cost more but would reap large benefits in the future. Take the case of LED bulb programme that proved a costly option but as the demand aggregated over time it led to bulk procurement that ultimately helped to surge sale volumes and brought the prices down. This in turn proved to be a sustainable, efficient and cost-effective option. Similarly, the solar power sector also went through the same phase where bulk procurement led to drastic drop in prices of electricity. Having lessons learnt from these examples, a long-term roadmap towards establishment of resource efficiency as part of achieving goals of sustainability by responsible consumption and production shall be developed. However, in order to achieve such goals some improvised changes must be followed by thriving policy and regulatory level changes.
On a similar note, circular economy will provide better opportunities to dig out money from waste. This will provide more job opportunities when new technologies and business models arrive on the same platform. The transitions can be done in form of pilot projects, capacity building programmes, multi-stakeholder involvement and partnerships.
It is worth noting that the existing polices in India influenced the use of resources at different life-cycle stages. For example, at mining stage, the National Mineral Policy aimed at zero-waste mining and the Steel Policy aimed at ramp-up extraction rate. At design stage, the National Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007 & Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, 2015 with an objective to develop robust ecological design standards for building components. At manufacturing stage, ambitious programmes like Make in India envisions energy efficient, pollution control and water efficient technologies and lastly, end-of-life stage policies that emphasize to handle wastes like plastic wastes, e-wastes, municipal solid wastes etc. All these policies though consider the resource efficiency at different stages, but these interventions appear to be more isolated as they lack a life-cycle approach. In order to make this core objective of resource efficiency effective, there is an immediate need for an institutional structure that could take all stakeholders under its umbrella that could take drive its impacts to greater standards.

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