Circular Electronics Business Models Offer $7 Billion Revenue Potential in India by 2035: New Report – News18

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A joint report by the India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) and Accenture, titled Pathways to Circular Economy in Indian Electronics Sector, has stated that there is a significant opportunity for generating $7 billion in revenue in the electronics sector in India by the year 2035 by adopting circular business models. This transformative shift towards circular business models in the electronics sector holds the promise of not only economic growth but also substantial social and environmental benefits, according to the report which was released today by Alkesh Sharma, Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY).

In an event attended by key stakeholders including Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman of ICEA, Dr Sandip Chatterjee from MeitY, Ved Prakash Mishra from the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Sudhendu J Sinha from NITI Aayog, and Sundeep Singh, Managing Director of Accenture, the report was unveiled to the public.

The electronics sector in India, a vital contributor to the nation’s economy, is shifting its trajectory from a linear model to a circular one, highlighting a holistic approach to sustainability. The report underscores that this evolution must surpass its role in e-waste management and emerge as a powerhouse for resilience, resource efficiency, and economic growth.

Key highlights

Economic potential: The report identifies six circular business models, including Circular Design, Repair, and Resell, that could unlock an impressive $7 billion in untapped revenue by 2035. These models hold the potential to reshape the electronics sector, fostering economic growth and enhancing its resilience.

Market size: The circular business models are projected to contribute to a market size of $13 billion by 2035. However, through effective public-private partnerships, the report suggests that the total addressable market could reach $20 billion, revealing a remarkable untapped potential of 35%.

Risk of value wastage: The report highlights that a failure to embrace the circular transition could impact around 1-3% of the electronics industry’s EBITDA, leading to potential revenue loss.

Balancing act: Given India’s unique socio-economic and manufacturing landscape, the report emphasises the importance of balancing five key trade-offs. These include decisions related to policy vision, formalising the informal sector, incentivising ease of doing business, managing supply-side strength, and tapping into consumer-driven demand shifts.

R-R-R: The circular economy is already gaining traction in India through core business models like Repair, Resell, and Recycling, primarily driven by the informal sector. While this sector handles 90% of collection and 70% of recycling, only 22% of collected e-waste is managed by the formal sector, revealing opportunities for improvement.

Challenges: The dominance of the informal sector poses challenges such as soil and water contamination due to rudimentary recycling methods. Moreover, concerns about waste worker safety, child labour, and low wages exacerbate environmental and human rights risks.

Policy interventions: The report presents nine bold policy interventions that span downstream, use-phase, and upstream pathways. These interventions include the promotion of multi-brand repair services, the establishment of refurbishment standards, and the creation of product-as-a-service frameworks.

Impact: If implemented, the proposed policies could generate a net economic value of $1.7 billion and divert 0.5 million tonnes of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), focusing on smartphones and laptops by 2035.

Green job and emission mitigation: Implementation of these policies could result in the creation of 110,000 high-quality formal sector green jobs and a reduction of 1.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from just two categories (smartphones and laptops which are the focus areas of this report) until 2035.

System change pathway: By adopting a balanced approach across downstream, use-phase, and upstream interventions, India’s economic value potential could reach $2.5 billion, diverting 0.6 million tons of WEEE by 2035.

The report clearly states that downstream interventions focus on the collection, dismantling, and recycling of electronic waste (e-waste). This includes improving the informal sector-led recovery and recycling, such as providing training and equipment to informal recyclers and creating formal collection and recycling infrastructure. Use-phase interventions focus on extending the lifespan of electronic products through repair, refurbishing, and resale. This includes measures to promote the right to repair and to provide incentives for consumers to repair or refurbish their electronic products.

In terms of upstream interventions, it focuses on designing electronic products for circularity. This includes measures to use recycled materials, to make products easier to repair and disassemble, and to design products that can be easily reused or recycled.

These three types of interventions are complementary and need to be implemented together in order to achieve a circular economy for electronics in India.

Steps for circular transformation

According to the report, there are practical and essential steps or actions that need to be taken to drive and implement India’s transition towards a circular economy. These include:

  • Develop a focused roadmap prioritising key interventions for swift implementation.
  • Foster a shared understanding among stakeholders to facilitate collective decision-making.
  • Undertake bold actions, including reforming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) implementation and attracting substantial investments.
  • Encourage industry collaboration to pioneer transformation and establish benchmarks.
  • Embrace data-driven policymaking for objective decision-making and effective implementation.
  • Establish industry standards for e-waste audit, ensuring compliance across stakeholders.
  • Alkesh Kumar Sharma, Secretary of MeitY, commended the report’s bold policy interventions, emphasising its objective. He highlighted that the report’s approach aligns with India’s commitment to circular business models and responsible resource management.

The report included a document from MeitY, in which the IT ministry Secretary stated: “Circular economy approach is thus imperative to fulfil the need of resources for the growing economy, like India”

“India is the third largest consumer of raw materials produced globally. If current economic trends persist, then India’s material consumption would reach nearly 15 billion tonnes by 2030 and above 25 billion tonnes by 2050. In order to fulfil the resources needed, it is imperative to follow a circular economy approach rather than the current linear economy principle of take-make-dispose,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman of ICEA, praised the report for aligning with the government’s vision of establishing a robust circular electronics ecosystem in India. He said: “I am confident that the electronics industry would facilitate sustainable circular economy practices to ensure a sustainable green future for the generations to come.”

“We are optimistic that the policy measures advocated in the report will set a new paradigm shift for sustainable practices in the electronics sector. The government’s commitment to evolving and fine-tuning policies, in close consultation with the electronics industry led by ICEA, will mark a significant milestone in the journey towards a greener future,” he noted.



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