Operationalization of the Principles of Circular Economy in the Indian Process Industry: Challenges and Strategies


The principles of circular economy (CE) have been conceived to achieve an appropriate balance between economic, environmental and social imperatives so as to overcome the hitherto negative impacts of their disjunction in industrial practice. Nevertheless, the operationalization of CE principles in the industry remains fraught with challenges as there is often a predisposition to prioritization of economic performance over environmental and social, in order to retain competitiveness. Such a challenge is expected to be possibly steeper in emergent economies such as India, owing to its specific predicament involving the need to transit rapidly from an agrarian to industrial economy in the face of a still relatively weak socio-economic performance and bourgeoning demographic pressure. Intrinsic stringencies of regulations aiming to establish CE are expected to impel development and adoption of newer, lean and green technologies and control of production, both of which may challenge businesses as they aim to absorb attendant economic pressures and yet remain viable. In this context, there is an absence of a multidimensional, holistic framework for integrating CE approaches in the economy through balance of cost-effective technology absorption by the industry, regulatory drive and enforcement, and change of consumer preferences. The proposed research will aim to bridge this knowledge gap by addressing the following research questions: (i) what broad strategic initiatives are needed to inculcate CE practice in the local industry against the specific environmental, economic and social context of the country; (ii) how to formulate CE performance criteria, measure and benchmark that of the industrial economy. The research will also aim to develop case studies in delineating the associated concepts.

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