Amidst BJP led government’s push to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, the ministry of environment and forest has released the draft National Resource Efficiency Policy to implement resource efficiency across all relevant resources including metals, minerals, fossil fuels, biomass, air, water, land, forests and across all life cycle stages including raw material extraction, material processing, production, use, end-of-life management. The policy has proposed regulatory instruments, market based incentives and disincentives and public procurement to achieve material resource efficiency and promote circular economy.
The environmental liability as a regulatory instrument will make the “polluter” pay for remediating the damage he has caused and is one of the forms of implementing the “polluter-pays” principle. Rationalization of tax regime aims to make secondary raw materials price-competitive and incentivize businesses to enter remanufacturing, refurbishing and recycling sectors. Subsidies or tax holidays could be provided to businesses engaged in providing remanufactured/refurbished/recycled products and related services. Grants or financial support for cleaner and resource efficient technologies and innovative circular start-ups will play crucial role to the innovation ecosystem and could be given to provide for the viability gap funding.
In a serious bid to move towards zero landfill, the policy says it will be dis-incentivized by imposing landfill taxes, high tipping fees especially for bulk generators of waste, thereby encouraging the optimal use of material and redirecting of waste to appropriate channels for their management.
A comprehensive and well-designed national level Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) policy can be a key instrument to promote resource efficiency in the economy, in addition to helping meet many other environmental goals. Public tenders that include quotas for locally sourced materials could be designed. Green procurement guidelines providing information on resource efficiency criteria to be used in the procurement processes for the prioritised products/service categories.
Conservation Action Trust executive trustee Debi Goenka said in theory the draft policy appears to be a positive initiative. “The problem however, is the draft has been issued by the MoEF which is itself incapable of enforcing is own laws. The track record over the past decade has been that almost every law and regulation has been rolled back or diluted at the expense of the environment. Instead of having so many scientists and bureaucrats, all they need is a secretarial pool which will be very efficient and save a huge amount of resources,” he said.
The policy envisages resource efficiency strategies for seven sectors including automotive, plastic packaging, building and construction, electrical, electronic equipment, solar photovoltaic, steel sector and aluminium across the life cycle stages of manufacturing and/or post-consumer waste management. The National Resource Efficiency Authority (NREA), which has been constituted under the provisions of Section 3(3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 will be mandated to drive the agenda of resource efficiency across the country.
- The environmental liability as a regulatory instrument will make the “polluter” pay for remediating the damage he has caused
- Subsidies or tax holidays could be provided to businesses engaged in providing remanufactured/refurbished/recycled products and related services