Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Moving away from the ‘take-make-dispose’ model


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Key concepts such as EPR, circular bioeconomy and various government schemes

Mains level: Circular bioeconomy significance and India's efforts


What’s the news?

  • India has prioritized Resource Efficiency and the Circular Economy as one of its core themes during its G-20 presidency.

Central idea

  • In the pursuit of sustainable development and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, decoupling resource utilization from economic growth is crucial. Recognizing the urgency to transition from the take-make-dispose model to the reduce-reuse-recycle approach.

What is the take-make-dispose model?

  • The take-make-dispose model, also known as the linear economy model, refers to the traditional and linear approach to resource consumption and production in our economic system.
  • In this model, resources are extracted from nature (take), processed into products (make), used by consumers, and then discarded as waste (dispose) after their useful life.
  • It follows a one-way flow of resources from extraction to disposal without considering the long-term environmental and social impacts

What is the reduce-reuse-recycle approach?

  • The reduce-reuse-recycle approach is a sustainable waste management strategy that aims to minimize the environmental impact of resource consumption and waste generation.
  • It promotes a circular economy model by encouraging responsible resource use, extending the lifespan of products, and maximizing the recovery of materials to be used in new products.

What is meant by circular economy?

  • A Circular economy is an economic model that aims to maximize resource efficiency and minimize waste by promoting the reuse, recycling, and regeneration of materials and products. It is a departure from the traditional linear economy, where resources are extracted, processed, used, and disposed of as waste.

What is meant by circular bioeconomy?

  • Circular bioeconomy is an approach that seeks to combine the principles of circular economy with the use of renewable biological resources.
  • The Circular bioeconomy adopts a closed-loop system, where biological resources, such as organic waste and agricultural by-products, are managed in a way that maximizes their value and minimizes their impact on the environment.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

  • EPR is a policy approach that holds producers accountable for the entire life cycle of their products, including their post-consumer stage.
  • The concept of EPR shifts the responsibility for the management of products, especially waste and recycling, from the end-user or consumer to the manufacturer or producer.

India’s exemplary approach to EPR

  • Centralized EPR Portal: India has established a centralized EPR portal, where over 20,000 registered Producers, Importers, and Brand Owners (PIBOs) are actively participating in EPR initiatives. This centralization streamlines waste collection efforts and facilitates better coordination in managing waste materials.
  • Robust Framework: With over 1,900 plastic waste processors registered on the EPR portal, India boasts one of the largest frameworks for EPR implementation. This extensive network of processors contributes to efficient plastic waste management and recycling.
  • Significant EPR Obligation: The combined EPR obligation of registered PIBOs amounts to a substantial 3.07 million tons. This indicates a substantial commitment by producers to manage and recycle the waste generated from their products, contributing to sustainable waste management practices.
  • Comprehensive Rules for E-Waste and Battery Waste: In addition to plastic waste, India has also notified comprehensive rules for e-waste and battery waste management. This indicates a comprehensive approach to addressing various waste streams and promoting responsible waste management across different sectors.

Why is moving towards a circular Steel sector crucial?

  • Commitment to Net Zero Ambitions: Most G-20 member countries have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions, indicating a collective determination to address climate change and promote sustainability.
  • Improving Recycling Rates: To ensure environmentally responsible resource consumption, there is a need to raise the current recycling rates of steel, which currently range from 15% to 25%. Increased recycling can reduce the demand for new raw materials and lower the industry’s environmental impact.
  • Vital Role of Steel in Infrastructure: Given its crucial role in infrastructure development, the efficient utilization of steel is of utmost importance. A circular steel sector can optimize resource use and minimize waste generation.
  • Growing Steel Demand: With the global economy growing, the demand for steel, especially in developing economies like India, is expected to rise. Transitioning to a circular model becomes even more significant in managing this increased demand sustainably.
  • Tackling Steel Sector Emissions: About 7% of energy sector emissions globally are attributed to iron and steel production. A circular steel sector is a key strategy to address these emissions and reduce the industry’s overall carbon footprint.
  • Blueprint for a Net Zero Pathway: The presidential document on the Circular Economy in the Steel Sector serves as a potential blueprint to achieve a net-zero pathway for the steel industry.
  • Sharing Best Practices: As different countries have implemented various EPR models, sharing best practices among G-20 member countries becomes crucial to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the steel sector.

India’s efforts towards a circular bioeconomy and Biofuels

  • Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana:
  • This initiative provides financial support to integrated bioethanol projects that aim to set up Second Generation (2G) ethanol projects.
  • 2G bioethanol technology allows for the production of bioethanol from waste feedstock, including crop residues and municipal solid waste, which would otherwise have no value.
  • Enhancing Value from Waste:
  • With 2G bioethanol technology, India maximizes the value derived from agricultural and urban waste, contributing to a more sustainable and circular economy.
  • By converting waste materials into bioethanol, the country promotes efficient resource utilization and minimizes waste disposal challenges.
  • Biomass Blending in Thermal Power Plants:
  • India has taken significant steps to promote the use of biomass in the energy sector.
  • It has made it mandatory for coal-burning thermal power plants to blend 5% of biomass pellets with coal.
  • This measure reduces carbon emissions and encourages the adoption of cleaner and renewable energy sources.
  • Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources (GOBAR) Dhan Scheme:
  • The GOBAR Dhan scheme plays a vital role in promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing pollution.
  • It involves the conversion of cattle dung and other organic waste into compost, biogas, and biofuels.
  • The scheme has led to the establishment of over 500 functional biogas plants, creating rural livelihood opportunities and ensuring improved sanitation.
  • Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Scheme:
  • Launched in 2018, the SATAT Scheme is a crucial step towards promoting greener transportation.
  • It aims to popularize Compressed BioGas (CBG) as an alternative green transportation fuel.
  • The scheme accelerates the development of infrastructure for the production, storage, and distribution of CBG, further supporting the bioenergy sector’s growth
  • Industry-Led Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Coalition:
  • Industries play a pivotal role in advancing resource efficiency and circular economy practices.
  • India’s vision of an industry-led coalition aims to foster technological collaboration, build advanced capabilities across sectors, mobilize de-risked finance, and encourage proactive private sector engagement.

The role of the G-20 in promoting a circular bioeconomy

  • Policy Coherence and Harmonization: By aligning policies related to bio-based products, waste management, and sustainable agriculture, the G-20 can promote consistent practices globally.
  • Knowledge Sharing and Best Practices: Members can learn from successful initiatives in other countries, accelerating the adoption of sustainable practices and technologies.
  • Technology Transfer: The G-20 can facilitate technology transfer between advanced and developing economies, enabling the adoption of advanced bio-based technologies in countries with fewer resources.
  • Collaboration with International Organizations: The G-20 can collaborate with international organizations like the UN and OECD to align circular bioeconomy strategies with broader global development goals, such as the SDGs.
  • Circular Agriculture and Food Systems: The G-20 can promote sustainable agricultural practices, such as agroecology and regenerative agriculture, to enhance food security, preserve biodiversity, and reduce agricultural waste


  • Global platforms like the G-20 are instrumental in addressing critical challenges and finding sustainable solutions through collaborative efforts. By prioritizing circularity in the steel sector, implementing effective EPR policies, fostering a circular bioeconomy, and forming industry-led coalitions, India sets a commendable example for other nations to follow in the journey towards a greener and more sustainable world.

Also read:

E-waste sector and Gender Justice

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