Promoting sustainable production across Indian industries

Widespread industrialisation has profoundly shaped the Republic of India over the last decades. However, changes are ambiguous in nature and have unfolded in two ways: on the one hand, economic development has provided jobs and improved the livelihood of millions of people; on the other hand, economic growth has been achieved at the expense of considerable environmental pollution, e.g. through large-scale creation of waste, emissions in the air and insufficient treatment of effluents. In this light, promoting sustainable production offers an attractive win-win potential. By reducing the amount of waste generated, improving existing waste treatment processes and exploring options for waste utilisation, Indian industries can increase their profitability while simultaneously minimising their environmental burden.

The severity of pollution is vividly illustrated by environmental conditions across four major industrial parks located in the states of Delhi, Gujarat and Uttarakhand. Facilities in these parks regularly exceed environmental threshold values and, in more extreme cases, are subject to closure notices issued by local environmental authorities. While production downtimes reduce environmental pollution in the short term, they also compromise the profitability of local businesses and hamper the economic performance of the affected areas. Hence, there is a pressing need to engage with these industrial areas in order to reduce their environmental impacts and maintain the sound working order of all production facilities.

On behalf of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), adelphi and its project partners TERI, Stenum Asia and ARECON provided technical and methodological expertise to improve environmental conditions across the selected industry sites. The project consortium conducted assessment visits at 40 Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in the above mentioned industry parks. By applying the ECOPROFIT approach, project partners created awareness for resource efficiency and cleaner production measures among SMEs, conducted trainings and illustrated the win-win potential of pollution prevention. Further, SMEs were provided with best practice examples and were given specific recommendations on how to optimise their production processes. In addition, they were supported during the implementation of the suggested solutions. Changes in environmental performance were monitored and evaluated against a previous baseline assessment. This resulted in a number of improvement reports. Lastly, the overall project results were disseminated across other industrial sites and communicated to industrial associations, environmental authorities and other public stakeholders.