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Facts you won’t believe!



In Ep.42 of Circular Business Podcast, I share with you some mind boggling facts you won’t believe around resource constraints in India.


These facts will give you a compelling reason why we need to design circular business models around them to ensure long term sustenance.

Last week as I was doing my readings and research for the podcast, I came across this 2018 report “Accelerating India’s Circular Economy Shift” by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) & Accenture and the facts mentioned by them were eye-opening for me and I wanted to bring those facts to you ASAP!


FICCI-Accenture_Circular Economy Report_
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I know , I know you are gonna say that Sree, it is a 2018 report, you are already late by 2 years, but like they say- Better late than NEVER.

Okay, so here we go:

  • The reports introduction opens with a graph of resource use v/s economic development; one key takeaway for all of us from that is; as an economy grows, the resource consumption per capita increases significantly.

  • So just imagine its implication on a developing Indian economy whose population is over 1 billion people! Are we well positioned to meet the expected rise in this resource demand?

This graph reminded me of a childhood story ..“The goose that laid golden eggs”.. Do you remember that? For those of you who don’t know, the plot goes like this. A farmer had a goose that laid a golden egg every day. The egg provided enough money for the farmer and his family to live a good life for a long time. But one day, the farmer got an idea “Why should I take just one egg a day? Why can’t I take all of them at once and make a lot of money? His greed made him kill the goose and then he was left with nothing but dead meat."

Putting this story into perspective- Planet Earth becomes the goose and natural resources become the golden egg and we humans are the greedy farmer off course.

Today in the global economy, developed nations have already set an example of environmentally toxic business practices therefore emerging economies of today may not be able to adopt the traditional growth models as it could strain the finite pool of natural resources. It’s time to leap frog to better business models. Its time for adopting to new normal here as well; Don’t you think so?

In order to renovate the traditional business process in the economy, we must prioritize where to begin to trigger maximum impact.

And I like the way how this report has narrowed down on the priority list.

They considered 3 parameters:

1) Resource contribution to economic activity (measured by share in GDP)

2) Resource contribution to India's import bill,

3) Resource impact on environment (measured by share in municipal solid waste).

The sweet spot between these three parameters is occupied by eight resources- its important ..make a note.. the resources are

  1. Petroleum

  2. Plastics

  3. Iron & Steel

  4. Copper

  5. Gold

  6. Cement

  7. Fibers

  8. Food

Friend, I’m gonna tell you a secret, you & I are meeting at this moment through the common vision of ClimateAction and the moment I made a mental note of these resources, it made me feel so much better because now I know which are the focus areas for our country. Trust me, you are at an advantage here because knowing these focus points coupled with its details from the report will equip you to make the perfect pitch to the influencers & stakeholders to speed up your sustainability project. Are you pumped up..yeah same here.

Now that we know of the priority areas it is time for the facts you won’t believe; Are you ready for it? Okay so here we go..

Starting with Petroleum:

  1. As per a 2016 review by BritishPetroleum, global proven oil reserves will suffice only for the next ~51 years that too, if the global production is at the same extraction level that of 2016.

  2. India's dependence on imported crude oil has increased significantly within a decade. It rose from 73% in 2005-06 to 81% in 2015-16

Next one is from Plastics:

  1. India's per capita plastic consumption is 13 kgs per annum compared to global average: 32 kgs per capita per annum. Even though the number seems low, why we should worry is because we are currently on the rise of per capita plastic consumption and this needs to be curbed.

  2. While India is implementing a lot of recycling initiatives and businesses for recycling plastic, still Around 40% of plastic waste generated ends up in landfills

Facts from metals section:

  1. India is the world's largest consumer of gold, with demand touching 650 tons in 2017

  2. Domestic gold production in 2015-16 was 1.5 tons which met only 0.2% of the country’s total demand and this domestic demand- supply gap is compensated through import (in 2016, India's gold import bill was $35bn)

  3. India is currently fourth largest recycler of gold with 80 tons recycled in 2015, with jewelry scrap contributing to around 90- 95% of this value.

  4. 22mn tons of steel scrap is recycled in India annually, 30% of which is imported and remaining 70% comes from domestic scrap

  5. Have you heard of mJunction? TATA Steel & SAIL established mJunction in 2001 which is the world’s largest eMarketplace for used steel and old-scrap. I urge you to check out their cool solution, link is available in the show notes.

Coming to cement:

  1. With an output of ~280mn tons in 2017, India is the second largest producer of cement in the world. However, consumption is expected to outpace supply over next three years

  2. DYK 30% of cement produced goes unsold or unutilized in India, paving considerable scope for reusing this capacity instead of increasing production or imports

Towards the end we gotta talk about Roti & Kapda translated to Food & Fabrics:

  1. From farm to fibre to fabrics, textile industry has a signicant water footprint - production of 1 kg of cotton in India consumes 22,500 litres of water as compared to global average of 10,000 litres

  2. During 2000–14, the number of garments purchased each year by the average global consumer has increased by 60%; additionally, consumers today are keeping clothing items for about half as long as they did 15 years ago

  3. In India, majority of food loss happens between production to sales stages (~90%) and only 10% occurs at the consumption stage

  4. The wasted food has a carbon footprint of 46.5 megatons and wastes 19.7mn hectares of land

That brings us to the end of facts section.

The resources we discussed today form a part of some important industries of our country and if we pay close attention we’ll notice that each one of us contribute towards the trade of those resources. We consumers are important stakeholders in this value chain, therefore please do not underestimate the power of your environmentally effective ideas.

In case you are struggling to connect with influencers who can fan your ideas, then I would recommend you to check out CoffeeMug.ai ; to put it simply it is a professional match making platform.

You must also leverage platforms like LinkedIn to connect with suitable collaborators and start working on your ideas..it has helped me a lot..and if you apply it correct you too will see the value of using such platforms for achieving your vision. I wish you all the best.


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