With a huge population continuously growing and an accelerated urbanization process, waste management in India has become a major challenge, especially in the urban setting. 

Over the years, there has been a heavy increase in the amount of waste generated, and it is only expected to increase further in the coming years. The characteristics of the discarded waste also have gone through a transformation, mainly with the increase in the use of electronic devices and equipment, nurturing the need for new solutions.

The municipal solid waste generated in India is expected to increase 7 times over the next 30 years.

Only about 75-80% of the municipal waste gets collected and out of this only 22- 28% is processed and treated. The remaining Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is deposited at dump yards. According to government estimates, currently, about 65 million tonnes of waste is generated annually in India, and over 62 million tonnes of it are MSW that includes organic waste, recyclables like paper, plastic, wood, glass, etc.

As the amount of waste generated is increasing, the efficiency of waste collection in India is still developing. Within this subject, a major concern is plastic waste, in which 8% of the contribution is solid waste.

The Indian government is very pro-environment and pro-climate but there is a long way to go and a big open space for new and good impact-driven ideas. 

In one of the many partnerships created to solve these questions, India joined Germany to establish an efficient system that ensures that no waste reaches rivers or seas. 

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH India on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, signed in April 2021 an agreement on technical cooperation titled, ‘Cities Combating Plastic Entering the Marine Environment.

Marine litter threatens ecosystems and adversely affects fishery and tourism industries around the globe. In addition to negative economic impact, it affects public health with increased concerns about micro-plastic and the risk of particles entering the food chain.

The project aims to improve practices to prevent the accumulation of plastic in the oceans that are affecting marine ecosystems and will be carried out at the national level, in selected states (Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Andaman Nicobar Islands) and the cities of Kanpur, Kochi and Port Blair for three and a half years.

It is estimated that 15-20% of all plastics are entering the oceans through riverine ecosystems of which 90 per cent are contributed by 10 of the world’s most polluting rivers. Two of them are located in India — Ganga and Brahmaputra.

Another project worth mentioning is the Reweave, an initiative by the Dutch ENVIU, aiming that the apparel industry can serve people and the planet and catalyze change.

India is the world’s second-largest textile producer and the fashion industry is the dirtiest industry after oil and gas. Of all clothing produced worldwide, 40% is thrown away. Textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space.

In India, Rewave offers different solutions like Khaloom, upcycling textile waste into high-end fabrics and Puraloop, converting sludge waste into energy & useful chemicals

Although this is a really big threat, it also brings many opportunities. India’s waste management market is expected to be worth US$ 13.62 billion by 2025, according to a report by Market research company NOVONOUS, 

Like the examples above, there are other actions in place, as clearly, India can benefit from technologies and innovations coming from other countries, which, together with local expertise and experience would be very beneficial and perhaps essential for the country.

The EU-India InnoCenter believes that India and Europe can face and overcome many challenges together. The purpose of the InnoCenter is to support European startups as they enter the Indian market, presenting the country’s real needs and opportunities in different verticals.

Sustainability is one of those verticals. In the last article we presented the water crisis in India. Now, to go deeper into waste management we interviewed Shalini Sharma, CEO and co-financier, Sanshodhan An E-Waste Exchange.

Sanshodhan The E-Waste Exchange operates in the waste management sector, predominantly in electronic waste management.

According to Shalini, it is important to note this is a regulatory domain in India, so a restricted category of players can operate in this domain. 

About the main opportunities in the e-waste sector for European companies, Shalini reinforced that technological partnerships are very welcome in this sector, and added:

“Recycling technologies for the e-waste sector (such as compact fluorescent lamps/tubes etc); BFR plastic; PVC plastic, Compact machines to conduct chemical processes for metals, extract from rare earths, portable crushers; end-to-end recycling of electronic waste and associated plastic can be a victory for India as well as Europe.

The future of e-waste recycling is bright in India. India generates an enormous amount of electronic waste. For example, the city of Hyderabad alone generates more than 50,000 tons of electronic waste per year. There are hundreds of cities like Hyderabad and more than 80% of the cities have no electronic waste recycling facilities.

Governments are interested in supporting the creation of a solid recycling ecosystem in India. We at Sanshodhan An E-waste Exchange are associated with 6 state governments that advise the establishment of end-to-end recycling units in their states.

If you are a European startup with innovative sustainability or other vertical solutions, India can be the perfect country for expanding your business.

The EU India Innocenter offers free programmes and support from discovering business opportunities to creating a strategic local network in India. Check our different programmes and count on us for all the steps of this journey.

*Text by Roberta Mellis – Pictures by Pixabay