Circular economy in India

Rethinking growth for long-term prosperity

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India is experiencing unprecedented economic dynamism

7.4%

economic growth per year in the last decade

1.7bn

people in 2050. India is projected to be the world's most populous country in 2022

Entrepreneurial and dynamic working population

Shaping the future

Today, India stands at the threshold of profound choices, and can look beyond the linear 'take, make and dispose' model. With its young population and emerging manufacturing sector, the country can make systemic choices that would put it on a trajectory towards positive, regenerative, and value creating development.

Implementing the circular economy, one that is restorative and regenerative by design, could make more effective use of materials and energy in a digitally enabled model of development.

Learn more about the circular economy

The benefits of a circular economy in India

By embarking on a circular economy transformation, India could create economic, environmental and social value for its businesses and population. The benefits could include:

₹40
lakh crore
(US$ 624 billion)

Annual value created in 2050, amounting to 30% of India’s current GDP

44%

Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 compared to the current development path

Profit opportunities and material cost savings for businesses

Lower use of virgin materials, water and artificial fertilisers

Reduced traffic congestion and air pollution

Advantage taken of the impending digital revolution

Reinforcement of India’s position as a hub for innovation and technology

Increased household disposable income through lower costs for products and services

India's competitive advantage

High-growth markets like India could move directly to a more effective system and avoid getting locked into linear models and infrastructure, as is the case in mature markets. The findings are relevant not only to India, but also to other emerging economies.

Where could the circular economy have most impact?

3 focus areas
Cities & construction, food & agriculture, mobility & vehicle manufacturing...

...have been identified as accounting for more than two-thirds of average household spend, and have the highest expected growth rate. They constitute the biggest source of employment, but also the majority of resource consumption and negative externalities. 

Cities and construction

60%

of India’s population will live in urban areas by 2050 – up from about 30% today

70%

of buildings that will exist in India in 2030 are yet to be constructed

Vision

Liveable cities with buildings and infrastructure appropriate for India’s expanding population.

Choices made today will determine India’s mid- to long-term development, and India could help meet the needs of its growing population while avoiding getting locked into resource-ineffective buildings and infrastructure.

Applying circular economy principles to developing this vast amount of infrastructure and building stock could create annual benefits of ₹4.9 lakh crore (US$ 76 billion) in 2050, compared with the current development path, together with environmental and social benefits.

  • Urban planning to optimise land utilisation and transport flows
  • Infrastructure for effective nutrient and material cycles
  • Sharing and multi-use of spaces
  • Buildings designed for energy and water efficiency
  • Modular construction 
  • Selection and looping of construction materials

Case studies

Food and agriculture

50%

of the working age population is employed in agriculture

61%

of land is used for farming

Vision

A regenerative, restorative agricultural system that combines modern technology with traditional regenerative practices to meet India’s growing food demand.

Growing food demand and environmental challenges associated with climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss are increasing pressure on the system. 

Applying circular economy principles to the development of the Indian food system could create annual benefits of ₹3.9 lakh crore (US$ 61 billion) in 2050; reduce GHG emissions, water usage, and environmental degradation; and play a vital role in securing the long-term food supply.

  • Regenerative agricultural production
  • More resource-efficient agricultural practices enabled by technology 
  • Digitally enabled asset- and knowledge-sharing solutions
  • Digitised food supply chains
  • Peri-urban and urban farming
  • Returning nutrients to the agricultural system

Case studies

Mobility and vehicle manufacturing

2%

of the population currently owns a car

x3

demand for personal mobility will triple by 2030

Vision

Designing a convenient, multimodal transport system enabled by digital technology for less resource-intensive but very effective mobility.

Mobility is vital to economic growth as it gives people access to employment, goods, and services and affects business productivity. As India is building new infrastructure to meet its growing mobility needs, today’s choices will determine the mid- to long-term development of the mobility system. 

A circular economy development path for mobility and vehicle manufacturing could create annual benefits of ₹31 lakh crore (US$ 482 billion) in 2050, compared with the current development scenario. Applying circular economy principles could also create a highly innovative and effective mobility system, with reduced negative externalities.

  • Innovative transportation infrastructure
  • Vehicles as a service
  • Technological innovation for transport planning and vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
  • Long vehicle lives through repair and maintenance
  • Looping of components and materials

Case studies

Start the transition

Capturing the benefits of a circular economy requires action by various stakeholders. Recommendations for businesses, policymakers, and other organisations can be found in the full report that you can download below.

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