Circular economy and waste management in India - initiatives coordinated by SINTEF, Norway

The Embassy recently held a seminar on Circular Economy and Waste Management in India with the purpose of disseminating SINTEF's knowledge and experience gained in India. The Embassy has been supporting the organisation's initiatives on utilizing treated materials from construction and demolition waste and co-processing of municipal and hazardous waste in cement plants. The seminar was attended by civil society, think tanks, bilateral and multilateral agencies.

Mr. Hans Jacob Frydenlund, Ambassador of Norway to India, opened the Embassy’s first physical seminar since Covid hit India, with great enthusiasm. He pointed out that Norway began implementation and enforcement of waste management for construction, redevelopment and demolition projects 30 years ago. India can widely adopt treatment and utilization of construction waste, and there is good potential to learn from Norwegian experience and expertise. Ambassador Frydenlund also highlighted that SINTEFs circular economy approach would enable sustainable waste management, resource conservation and reduction of greenhouse gases in India.

SINTEF is a long-time partner for the Embassy on circular economy. The Norway based company is one of Europe’s leading independent research foundation. Dr. Christian Engelsen presented the SINTEF project on treatment and utilization of construction and demolition (C&D) waste, with examples of adoption by Central Public Works Department, L&T group and Godrej Industries. The C&D session was followed by a presentation from Dr. Kåre Helge Karstensen on circular economy of municipal waste and the use of non-recyclable plastic waste in co-processing in Indian cement companies.

Recycling of C&D waste reduces the Co2 emission, save large quantities of natural resources and prevents pollution of soil and groundwater. The Co2 binding potential is high in recycled materials produced from Indian cement based products. The landfills in India are a huge challenge. The landfills contains non-recyclable plastic waste that can be co-processed and the challenge can be addressed to a large extent. Destruction of concentrated Chlorofluorocarbons and hazardous waste from industrial sites, can be also effectively co-processed in cement plants.

There were several questions and comments after the presentations, such as the possible loss of livelihoods of waste collectors due to co-processing, on how to deal with possible harmful emissions from co-processing, cost-benefit analysis of recycled aggregates with fresh materials etc.