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Editorial Articles

Issue No 35, 27 November-3 December 2021

Circular Economy: Skill Development And Employment Opportunities

Prof (Dr.) Tanu Jindal

Atmanirbhar Bharat vision makes the complete circle only when it integrates with Swachh and Swasth Bharat. Sustainability is essential for holistic growth of a country, taken forward successfully by developing the effective approach of recycling and caring for natural resources.

 Clean and Green technologies are vital in meeting the principles of circular economy to achieve sustainable development for betterment of masses, business models and environment. Identification of policies and systems for sustainability is the need of the hour.

Circular economy and Green technologies require eco-friendly designs, infrastructures, models, systems, reuse and recycle of end products. This creates the requirement for new skill sets and employment generation.

We can become a Swachh, Swasth and Atmanirbhar Bharat by actively making policies for support of green business models, systems and skill sets for circular economy. To develop skills for a circular economy, educational system with principles of green technology and sustainability must be included in current vocational courses and degree programmes in higher education.

Clean technologies and greener economy has lots of opportunities for skill development alongwith employment generation. The 3R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle, are the vital principles for circular economy, taking a leapfrog from “Take, make, waste and pollute to useless” to “Get more from less and use it again”.

 Many sectors like agriculture, household goods, automotive, construction and electronics require circular economy principles to be implemented. There is huge opportunity for skill development and employment generation in above sectors once circular economy principles are integrated. Many startups can be incubated on the principle of 3R’s waste management and waste to energy sectors.

 Policies, approaches and practices for sustainability advancing circular economy ideologies must be adopted in early stages by business projects for skill development and employment generation. Also, there is need for conclaves among business houses to shift mindsets of profit making, keeping in view the protection of environment and earth’s sustainability.

There is need to educate about climate change and sustainable development to inculcate the sense of caring for nature in future generations.

Circular Economy and Emerging Green Technologies (EGTs)

Emerging green technologies talk about technologies that have achieved technological development but comparatively have very less market share or technologies that are in primary phase of technological development.

 The practice of green technologies allows companies and industrial units to bring the green practices into production which decreases the effect of the manufacturing methods on the environment. The opportunity of the green practices such as eco-design, clean production, recycling and use again, is focused on lowering down expenses related with manufacturing, delivery, consumption and dumping of products. Green technologies are capable of decreasing environmental contamination and use recycled natural resources as raw materials.

Factors to Consider: Corporations need to take account of use of clean technologies as their focused aim. Organizations should build infrastructure for manufacturing of green energy, such as wind or solar energy. Ecological awareness must be turned into societal crusade. Investors need to put their funds in green technology firms to finance clean energy and Greentech companies. Green technology has gathered investors’ interest to combat against climate change and a growing scarcity of natural resources. Technology and science works under aegis of Greentech to create ecofriendly products. The aim is to safeguard the atmosphere and heal the harm done earlier. Greentech is an identified area for industries working in the field to save environment. These goals are the mission and vision for organizations working for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria to help economy. Manufacturers must reduce the harmful ecological externalities by changing their manufacturing process to achieve the pledge of zero-waste. Recyclable material can be used for plastics, fertilizer, and fuel. One of the vital practices of greentech is in reprocessing business.

Circular Economy and Sustainable Development

Moving towards sustainability is a social challenge and a global challenge that will require efforts from local and national governments, international cooperation, and also inputs from academics and researchers to help put in place the best practices and knowledge to encourage these essential changes. Appraising economic advant-ages of going green, developing new technologies and redesigning systems in a flexible and reversible manner to benefit the environment is at the heart of our research. Circular Economy and Sustainable Development can together come with the help of following points explained in the diagram.

Clean Technologies for promoting and integrating circular economy based business models for skill development and employment generation Solar Panels

Solar panels are one of the popular types of green technology. They may be small solar panels on an RV to provide power when dry camping or solar panels on top of one’s home to reduce your electricity bill. They are more common than solar concentrators because they are passive devices, and solar concentrators have the nasty side effect of causing burn injuries to migratory birds. Their only upside is that the super-heated column of salt inside many designs provides heat that generates steam, driving turbines through the night.

Wind Turbines

Green technology Wind turbines are often named along with solar panels as the gold standard of green technology. Wind turbines can be installed in areas where solar panels aren’t effective, due to low levels of solar radiation. They may run day and night. The land underneath can still be used for farming and ranching. There are downsides to wind turbines. They have a limited operational life, and they are rarely recyclable.

Solar Heating

Solar heating is less well known but a commonly used green technology. When you put a solar cover on your pool to heat it or keep it warm without relying on electricity, you’re reducing consumption of energy. Sun’s energy is used in solar water heaters to heat up water without relying on electricity or natural gas. Greenhouses traditionally rely on solar heating.

Water Purification

People are carelessly using drinking water for other purposes. Earth naturally reprocesses water; however emerging technologies speed up the procedure of cleaning the water.

Some international agencies estimate that about 80% of the leftover water generated by people flows back into the bio-network without being recycled. The present technologies are very significant but they require more improvement for employing specialised skill sets.

Recycling and Waste Management

Innovative developments in green technology help in recycling of unwanted material.

Emerging technologies are being used by the companies for sorting domestic waste into plastic and non plastic sections that can be recycled. The main product is melted where all the usable constituents from waste are dissolved. Then it can be converted into a form of liquid that can be used to make biogas.

 Chemical recycling is an advanced method which breaks the plastic waste into chemical components, later can be used as fuel or can help in conversion of plastic products.

Also, composting of wet waste from kitchen is one of the main components in waste recycling. Recycling of dried flowers for making incense, handmade paper from recycled used paper, agriculture waste, metal recycling, etc. can lead to development of small business start-ups.

sually reprocessed materials include aluminium, steel, plastic and paper. Aluminium manufacture uses less than a tenth of the energy in recycling the metal than is required to remove it from bauxite. Many minerals are used in cell phones and other high-end electronics. China is the major source of these minerals, and trade wars and their own restrictive manufacturing rules limit access to this critical material for global players. The best recycling program is found in Japan, for reutilizing of scarce metals used in decorative items and light. Recycling can include incineration.

Self-supporting Buildings

Buildings should be designed to function without any external energy support with the assistance of infrastructural facilities such as the powerdriven control grid, gas grid, and urban water systems. Solar panels help the buildings in producing their own heat and electricity. Similarly, designs are being made for maximum sunlight in the building reducing the use of electricity in day time. Also, there are designs which help in keeping the building cool and isolated avoiding the use of airconditioners. Construction of such sustainable building requires specialised skill sets and training modules must be prepared.

Conversion of Waves into Energy

A massive resource of energy is “Ocean Energy” which generates from waves, tides and currents. Few organisations are working in the direction to convert waves into energy. One of the companies in Australia is in the process to use submerged buoys to convert sea waves into energy. Steel buoys can produce energy of 240 kilowatts. The pumps generate high-pressure water to an onshore power plant. The turbines spin with the help of high-pressure water which produces green energy. Energy which is formed with the help of tides has good potential of renewable energy as it is abundant and consistent. Specialised business models can be generated involving start-ups for tapping energy of waves.

Non-Emission Vehicles

Automobile industry is among the major sectors which produces pollutants which are not eco-friendly. It is predicted that within short span of time, the numbers of vehicles will be doubled, as a result generating more non eco-friendly pollutants. Green vehicles are the best alternative of fuel vehicles, which will be less harmful to the environment. Huge market can be developed by setting up business for green vehicles for sustainable development, which will also lead to employment generation.

Vertical Farming

The concept of growing stacked vertical layers that will help in solving our food producing problems with the help of ecofriendly technology is known as vertical farming. Vertical farming doesn’t require soil and 95% less water is used. The new innovative technology helps in making verticals farms in buildings to generate fresh air and nutritious food. This has huge economic and consumer benefits along with minimizing loss of energy to make good impact on environment for protection of individual’s health and employment generation.

Education and Training for circular economy framework would lead to green skills and sustainable start-ups.

Following constituents are essential for Green Evolution and Sustainable Development:

1.  Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

2.  Low carbon growth

3.  Sustainable economic growth

4. Equitable growth

5. Social development and poverty reduction

6. Strong communities & habitats

7. Biodiversity & ecosystem goods and services

8. Value of natural capital

9. Ecosystem resilience

10. Climate adaptation & mitigation

 Circular economy and Green technologies help in improving community health and wellness, environmental health impact and economic empowerment.

Integrating sustainability principles in education and vocational training programmes for generating skill and employment would build a Swachh, Swasth and Atmanirbhar Bharat.

(The author is Group Additional Pro Vice Chancellor, Amity Institute of Environmental Toxicology, Safety and Management.)

 Views expressed are personal