India has drafted a detailed national policy for non-ferrous scrap recycling with focus on the recycling of aluminium, copper and critical raw materials (CRMs). India’s metal scrap demand is majorly served by imports despite the potential to locally generate and recycling scrap.
The Indian government aims to organise the domestic scrap industry to reduce dependency on primary and scrap metal imports. India’s Ministry of Mines has issued a draft policy for non-ferrous metal scrap recycling on Thursday in consultation with various stakeholders of the Indian recycling industry. The policy focuses on improving scrap segregation and processing infrastructure, development of urban mines and data analysis systems to enhance the extraction of raw materials from scrap.
* The policy calls for the development and strict implementation of quality standards for import and use of metal scrap
* Well-defined end-of-life (EOL) norms to ensure availability of high-quality scrap
* Conservation of natural resources and reducing stress on the environment including water bodies and lowering carbon footprint
* Adoption of data analysis in policy-making for the recycling industry to determine and improve metal extraction and scrap trade opportunities in India and overseas
* Establish a comprehensive regulatory and institutional framework for recycling of metals and materials in India
Treating scrap as commodity
With the advent of digital technologies sorted scrap is sold across the globe as a commodity. Promotion of recycling industry with the help of ease of business legislation, policies for scrap processing and designated processing zones will increase the use of scrap in the economy and improve trade.
Sourcing critical raw material for digital age
Develop strategic perspective to source CRMs that are not available from primary resource including banning the export of scrap containing CRMs and removal of restrictions on import of crucial scrap and technologies for the creation of value-added metals and alloy products and thereby reducing their imports. Sorted and created CRM scrap can replace ores and concentrates used in manufacturing. A comprehensive policy for CRM availability, stockpiling, recovery from domestic EOL products is essential.
Investor-friendly, organised industry
Identify steps and processes to transform recycling sector into an organized industry and help expand the Indian recycling industry from just collection to export of scrap; to processing more scrap and producing value-added products. Identifying unorganized, self-employed entrepreneurs of the recycling ecosystem, linking them according to their geographical location into zones and obtaining cluster maps is essential. Government should incentivise them with welfare schemes.
Collectors and aggregators
Organising collectors and aggregators of scrap who are known to local authorities and regulatory agencies and transforming their operation into formal enterprises is essential. These enterprises need to be linked to digital frameworks and data regarding EOL of products, their processing technique and their customers (secondary smelters / manufacturers) collected for analysis.
Review existing overlapping laws involving multiple government ministries need to be synergised to attract investment into the recycling industry and bring in the necessary technologies and value addition to the industry.
Import-export policy synergised
India’s import-export strategies for certain metals, minerals and scrap need to be reviewed as per the requirements of the recycling industry. Emphasise on exports, mapping of scarce primary resources and implementation of policies in view of domestic and export demand is essential.
Government should make it mandatory for households, offices and institutions to deposit EOLs at identified collection points or at authorized dealers, from where municipal authorities can collect them directly before getting contaminated with organic waste.
Listing of metals and materials present in a product by manufacturer can help toward compulsory recycling of each product and collection of data for analysis.
Urban mines and recycling parks
Design and develop specialised and regulated urban mines from underground zero. The policy aims to demonstrate and deploy the concept of a well-engineered urban mine. from ground zero. Investments in engineering processes and technology for the extraction of scrap metal by creating urban mines in special economic zone along with co-locating SMEs and MSMEs for different metal categories can meet domestic demand as well as develop a foreign exchange earning industries.
Each designated urban mine will cater to specific EOL products such as e-waste, white goods, vehicles, tyres and batteries. Urban mines should not be confused with dump yards but should serve as a location to collect large quantities of similar recyclable products. They should operate based on specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for accepting scarp materials.
Separate policy for batteries
Initial plan is to create 100 urban mines and special purpose zones dedicated to recycling across the country. Battery recycling urgently needs exclusive zones and they should not be categorised as e-waste A separate policy is needed to decouple batteries from e-wastes.
Renewables and electric mobility
The increased adoption of renewable and electric vehicles is expected to boost the demand for metals such as copper, lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earths (Sm, Nd) by nearly four times.
Data-based approach towards circular economy
India aims to shift toward a circular economy for various metals and materials. Data pertaining to the content of metals and materials in products, their lifespan should be obtained and analysed. Data is essential for strategically important metals and materials found in embedded products such as mobile phones and are not available from the primary source in India. Proper recycling processes for these materials that can be extracted from EOL products is also important.
Data from landfills
Metal scrap and invariably end up in landfills in India, data analysis of recyclable products such as Zn-C, nickel, lithium batteries, aluminium packaging foil need to be conducted. Large quantities of nickel, zinc and rare earths used in batteries can be extracted from landfills.
Turning recycling into independent industry
Creating best practices and mechanisms for ranking enterprises involved in the recycling industry and incentivising them to improve.
R&D and technology deployment
Develop technologies to separate scrap metals and materials from complex products. The government can set up dedicated centres to develop recycling technologies for scrap extraction with the help industry participants. Another approach would be to support industry-funded missions for development of recycling technology under in-house R&D laboratories or set up research facilities in academia.
Promote start-ups in recycling eco-system
Speed-up the recycling industry by supporting start-ups which can develop product-based recycling concepts.