IMRC 2023 Emphasises the Role of Recycling in Achieving Net Zero

The 10th MRAI Conference highlighted the challenges with non-ferrous scrap BIS standards and sought the support of the Ministry of Mines, NITI Aayog to resolve the issue.

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Waste Management
March 7 2023
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Material Recycling Association of India (MRAI) hosted the 10th edition of the International Indian Material Recycling Conference (IMRC 2023) in Kochi, India from February 2 to 4. The meet of global recyclers saw 1800+ delegates, including 450 foreign delegates, to create a deeper insight for maximizing the rate of recycling, protect natural resources, minimise environmental pollution, create more employment opportunities for women in the weaker section and will help achieve the sustainable development goal of India’s commitment of carbon neutrality by 2070.


Indian Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari while speaking at the session on Role of Sustainability in India’s Growth Trajectory shared “Today the recycling industry is one of the most important industries for the country. The availability of the material is very important and the futuristic technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, science, technology, research, skilled and successful practices, which we call knowledge and conversion of knowledge into wealth is the future. The other important philosophy which I always appreciate is conversion of waste into wealth. I am confident that recycling of different types of materials by using the futuristic good technology available in the world is really a success story for The 10th MRAI Conference highlighted the challenges with non-ferrous scrap BIS standards and sought the support of the Ministry of Mines, NITI Aayog to resolve the issue. the country. The automobile industry is already creating employment potential of 4.5 lakh crores in the country, and now our target is to make this industry 15 lakh crores as we are now at No. 3 position globally.”

He also urged the domestic recyclers to collaborate and come up with recycling units across the country. “In the metal sector we have a lot of shortage of copper, aluminium and steel and this is the time we need to encourage the recycling of the material by which we can reduce the cost of the finished product. That’s why the govt. is propagating the Scrappage Policy. The government has taken the decision to extract scrap from 9 lakhs government vehicles. At the same time we are opening scrapping units across the country. I also appeal to automobile manufacturers and corporate giants to come together and start scrapping units”.

The conference focused on various aspects of Materials in India & International Markets like Ferrous, Non-Ferrous, Circular Economy, Plastic, E-Waste, Tyre Recycling, Battery Recycling.

Ruchika Chaudhary Govil, Additional Secretary Ministry of Steel, opined “There is a need to develop a systematic roadmap for achieving India’s commitment of carbon neutrality by 2070. Waste will have to be recycled. Several recycling zones across the country are the need of the hour. Consumers have immense recyclable materials such as e-waste, clothes etc, lying in their homes and we need to tackle it seriously by working with kabadiwala, local municipal corporations and recycling parks to derive secondary resources for the future”.

The MRAI highlighted the issue with nonferrous scrap BIS standards and sought support from the Ministry of Mines, NITI Aayog to resolve the same.


Speaking at the Plenary Session, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of Steel, shared, “We are responsible as stakeholders for the generation that is yet to come, thus the material recycling sector is important. I am fully committed to the circular economy and recycling sector of India and increase per capita consumption of Steel. 22 per cent of our steel is produced through recycling but we need to include the informal sector for the development of the sector as well. For our commitment to Net Zero by 2070, we can look at short term goals by using energy efficiency tools by 20 per cent by 2030. 22 per cent production of scrap from steel needs to be increased, as per policy. ‘Scrap’ is a virtuous word that denotes a green economy to sustain Mother Earth in the years to come. It is also important to incentivise the unorganised sector so that we have volumes towards the commitment of the future of recycling. It is our commitment that by 2030 we should reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent from the current 2.85 to 1.4 CO2/tonne of crude steel produced and to be able to do that scrap is an extremely important source. Today’s 15 per cent of scrap usage will increase to almost 25 per cent in the next 5 years in line with the Vision of 2047, that means the percentage of scrap for production of steel should go upto 50 per cent and only 50 per cent to be dependent on iron ore.”

Sanjay Mehta, President, MRAI, shared, “We are excited for India’s future, we can see more than 400 medium and large infrastructure projects currently underway in India and I believe the next 25 years are going to be India’s growth story. India is going to consume more & more materials; manufacturing activities are going to increase and I believe India will become the export hub for the world in the next 20 years.

As the world’s second-largest steel producer, India needs to become a responsible steel producer and therefore, we anticipate incremental usage of scrap in the coming years. Primary steel industry accounts for around 8 per cent of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on a yearly basis, while it accounts for 12% of all CO2 emissions in India. MRAI also urges the government to enhance the usage of secondary steel in government infrastructure projects, announce circular economy recycling parks and address domestic scrap shortage.”

The speakers at the conferences reiterated the fact that till now the global economy increasingly relied on materials from virgin sources and breaking through the safe environmental limits of the planet. Going forward, recycling and circularity would only help to achieve the sustainable development goals.


While speaking about the proposed Circular Economy Parks in Maharashtra, Harshadeep Kamble (IAS), Principal Secretary – Industry & Mines, Maharashtra State Government shared “This transition of India from linear economy to circular economy is aligned with the Prime Minister’s vision of to be No.1 largest economy of the world in coming years. The focus on the transition of Use, Recycle, Reuse towards Circular economy will help achieve our Net Zero mission”.

The GDP of Maharashtra is already 15 per cent of the national GDP, FDI is 30 per cent, industrial production is 15 per cent of the national production.

“The idea is to make Maharashtra a recycling hub. The highlight of the Circular Economy Park will be having smaller hubs and one large park in various regions including Nagpur, Vidarbha, Marathwada, Mumbai-Pune, Ratnagiri and Kolhapur after looking at environmental concerns. The Government of Maharashtra is thus working with stakeholders of various sectors such as steel manufacturing, metal manufacturers, solid waste etc and formulating a flexible Circular Economy policy”, he added.

Mehta said, “From sustainable development and climate change mitigation considerations, it is important that recycling is given clear focus and strong impetus in the industry sector”. The recycling industry is highly unorganised and is worth about USD50 billion now. There are over 25,000 recycling units in the country, he said.

Dhawal Shah, Sr VP, MRAI, “Metal scrap consumption needs to have an ethical and moral endorsement. Transition towards EAFs, using scrap as their main input, should be supported. Similarly traditional primary producers are pushing new frontiers in optimising scrap usage in their end products. We, at MRAI, have been demanding that we must have a minimum usage threshold of recycled content in product design, and manufacturing of metals whether steel or non-ferrous, without compromising on quality requirements of output. Primary production using mining resources is being phased out globally. Out of 4.5 million tonnes of primary aluminium output in the US is less than a million tonnes.”

Yogesh Mandhani, President, Steel Manufacturer Association Of Maharashtra, said “MSME sector is a part of budding India and its growth story. MSME Steel sector is a major contributor in production of steel to around 60 per cent of present production. MSME sector has given direct employment to 5 lakh people and has created 20 lakh jobs indirectly pan India. MSME has adopted all new technologies such as automation, product scaling, energy saving, sustainability and has created a benchmark in all sectors with minimum resources. MSME Steel is fast moving towards green steel, we urge the government to extend support and achieve the target by 2030”.

The 3- day event engaged multiple panel discussions on Plastic Recycling EPR Policy & BIS Standards, Policy Framework & Technological Advancement in Tyre Recycling, E-Waste Management Rules 2022 & Circular Economy in E-waste Recycling etc.

The conference was attended by eminent international industry leaders, officials from the Ministry of Steel, Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, NITI AAYOG, Ministry of Electronics, Information & Technology, Ministry of Shipping, Bureau of Indian Standards and more along with International Associations such as the BIR and ISRI.

Investment opportunities ripe for the recycling industry

Speaking to Waste & Recycling MEA magazine, Harshadeep Kamble (IAS), Principal Secretary – Industry & Mines, Maharashtra State Government said, the idea behind the Circular Economy parks is to initiate the process of recycling and reusing. Recycling, reusing and manufacturing is the ideal way to reach India’s Net Zero targets by 2070.

Not to mention the economical benefits of recycling. Unlike the linear method - take-make and waste, the circular model will help us save on the raw materials cost. Scrap can be put to maximum use and people’s mindset will also change.

Under the Circular Economy Park initiative, recycling units will be incentivised to set shop. The government will support the infrastructure and land requirements. This ecosystem will lead to significant investment opportunities for the recycling industry. It is an opportunity to bring the unorganised sector into the mainstream and help achieve the country’s social goals.

Global scenario

The developed countries have already started working on including recycled materials in their products. Brands such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, have also joined the bandwagon. There is a lot of investment in the sector in the developed economy.

We should learn from their experiences. In fact, India is in a much better position to implement these measures and achieve a circular economy

Steel sector has taken the lead in using recycled materials. The import of scrap materials have also been eased up for the sector. And there is significant investment in recycling as well. Textile is another sector where there is a good potential for recycling and reusing.

The one sector that is lagging behind, when compared to many other countries, is e-waste. There is a lot of scope and we can attract investment in India. With the latest technological advancements, technical know-how and quality manpower in India, we could easily become a recycling hub for the world.

By 2030, I foresee more than 400 billion annual addition to the economy from this sector. It could even surpass one trillion dollars by 2040.


R. Keerthana, Editor, Waste & Recycling sat down with Sanjay Mehta, President of the MRAI, for an interview, on the sidelines of the Conference. Here is an excerpt from it.

The Indian government has extended a steel scrap customs duty exemption for another year to support secondary steel producers. What’s your take on this?

The Ministry of Steel has been supportive of the steel recycling industry. We are in touch with the government and it is aware of the challenges the industry faces. The Ministry has been removing many hurdles and we are thankful for that. It has made the BIS specifications favourable for the steel industry.

What’s MRAI’s role in the Circular Economy Park to be set up in Maharashtra?

MRAI’s efforts to bring in compulsory norms for End-of Life Vehicles finally came into effect a couple of years ago. We have been endorsing Circular Economy Parks by drawing inspiration from Western and other Asian countries, for the past 7 to 8 years. I am happy that it is finally here. Maharashtra has become the first state to announce the setting up of four Circular Economy Parks. The State has made MRAI its knowledge partner.

Your opinion on the proposed BIS standards for aluminium recyclers and producers

The BIS Standards have been put forward for public comments. But the standards are not practical or operational. The Standards have been drafted by the BIS, the Ministry of Mines and the Niti Ayog, but we are definitely not in favour of such standards.

Import duty

Even though everyone realises the importance of the recycling industry in the country’s efforts to reach a circular economy, there is some kind of pressure tactics from the primary producers to impede the import of non-ferrous scrap into the country. There is an import duty (2.5% for aluminium and copper and 5 % for zinc and lead) on all the non-ferrous materials.

India is importing 90 per cent of its aluminum requirement from other countries. Our production and our requirements have gone up, but India does not have enough materials to meet the demand. Across the world, many countries, including those in Asia, have scrapped duty on metal scrap import.

MRAI has been appealing to the Ministry of Mines, in vain, to lift the import duty, so that we can increase our production. But we will continue to fight and I am sure, our hard work will pay off. The government should understand that steel alone cannot achieve a circular economy - all metals should come into play.

“Though everyone realises the importance of the recycling industry in the country’s efforts to reach a circular economy, there is some kind of pressure tactics from the primary producers to impede the import of non-ferrous scrap into the country.”