The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's latest report, launched in New Delhi today, finds that adopting circular economy principles would put India on a path to positive, regenerative, and value-creating development, with annual benefits of ₹40 lakh crore (US$ 624 billion) in 2050 compared with the current development path – equivalent to 30% of India’s current GDP.
Circular Economy in India: Rethinking growth for long-term prosperity, produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as Knowledge Partner and funded by ClimateWorks Foundation, reveals that in addition to creating cost savings for businesses and households, following a circular economy development path would reduce negative externalities: greenhouse gas emissions would be 44% lower in 2050 compared to the current scenario, and congestion and pollution would fall significantly, leading to health and economic benefits to Indian citizens.
This report builds on the Foundation’s previous analysis of the circular economy opportunity for Europe, by exploring for the first time the potential of applying the circular framework in a fast-growing market context. With its existing circular mindset and strong digital backbone, India can reap significant economic and societal benefits, embarking on a positive development path as it focuses on regenerative practices.
In a context characterised by unprecedented economic dynamism and a rapidly expanding population - yet facing significant questions about urbanisation, resource scarcity, and high levels of poverty - India stands at the threshold of profound choices about the path to future development. The upcoming Indian powerhouse could follow an industrialisation path comparable to that of mature markets, with the associated negative externalities that this entails, or follow a trajectory towards positive, regenerative, and value-creating development. Existing research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and others has demonstrated that the circular economy framework – one that is restorative and regenerative by design, and makes effective use of materials and energy in a digitally enabled model of development - has the potential to deliver such benefits.
This latest research is based on high-level economic analysis of three focus areas key to India’s economy and society: cities and construction, food and agriculture, and mobility and vehicle manufacturing. It shows that by applying circular economy principles in combination with the unfolding digital and technological transformation, India has the opportunity to direct its expected high levels of growth and development toward a resource-effective system, creating value for businesses, the environment, and the Indian population.
Increasing circularity can help unlock efficiencies, opening up urgent investment opportunities and delivering environmental, economic and social gains. Lessons from this work in India serve as an important example for other developing countries seeking to meet both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commitments in the Paris Agreement.
Achieving these benefits would require Indian businesses to lead the circular economy transformation – launching new circular economy initiatives and reinforcing existing efforts – with policymakers simultaneously setting the direction and creating the right enabling conditions. Universities, non-profits, and international organisations could play important supporting roles, including facilitating and participating in local collaborative initiatives.
An International Briefing on the report will take place in Geneva on 12 December. Please contact info (at) ellenmacarthurfoundation.org for further details on how to register.