India’s recycling sector looks to benefit from carbon-neutral drive, MRAI says

India’s expanding recycling sector will look to capitalize on the opportunity presented by ambitious carbon neutrality targets in the country, according to the Material Recycling Association of India (MRAI)

Issues surrounding India’s recycling segment will be brought into sharp focus during this week’s flagship conference organized by the MRAI.

The MRAI’s International Indian Material Recycling Conference (IMRC), which will take place in New Delhi on May 5-7, is the year’s focal point for market participants in the country’s scrap sector.

Growing reliance on local recycling

The 2022 annual conference comes at a time of increasing reliance on domestic recycling by the country’s steelmakers.

Only 12-15% of Indian steelmaker scrap demand currently comes from the import market, with the rest of the needs pulled from domestic supplies, according to estimates from key Indian market participants.

For the MRAI, such developments are important steps in fulfilling the huge potential of India’s circular economy. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has placed huge importance of Indian self-sufficiency – or Atmanirbhar- and the MRAI emphasized the recycling sector’s role in this ethos.

“Secondary steel manufacturers are playing a vital role in making India Atmanirbhar in the steel sector.” Zain Nathani, MRAI director and director of Nathani Steel, said on April 30.

“The potential for recovering critical metals and minerals like cobalt, lithium, nickel and manganese from used and discarded lithium-ion batteries are going to play a significant role to make India self-sustainable in [this] sector,” Aln Rao, MRAI director and chief executive officer of Exigo Recycling, said.

Local shredded gains foothold

Growing technological advances and ambitious projects to supply higher-grade scrap to the Indian market is further weaning steel mills off imports.

A significant Indian trading source told Fastmarkets in March that a key Indian mill is now sourcing more of its requirements of shredded scrap from Tata Steel’s Haryana plant, which was commissioned in August 2021, and has been lessening its inquiries for imports of the material.

Price is still a key factor in purchasing decisions though, and some coast-based mills are quick to return to the import market for scrap when seaborne prices undercut those in the local market, such as in the week ending March 25.

Fastmarkets’ calculation of the steel scrap, shredded, index, import, cfr Nhava Sheva, India was $606.25 per tonne on April 29, down from $633.46 per tonne week on week.

Capitalizing on policy decisions

The three-day event in Delhi will also see speakers discuss how best to drive recycling in the country help to fulfill the ambitious targets set by the country’s government to both produce non-fossil fuel-based energy in India and reduce projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030.

“The Indian government’s policy thrust on the circular economy becomes an important step to acknowledge the power of recycling. With this, we are very confident that the recovery and reuse of waste will play a key role in India’s growth story at a time when India is moving towards a manufacturing-intensive green economy,” Sanjay Mehta, MRAI president, said.

Manufacturing firms in the country have a duty to drive down their own carbon emissions to help achieve India’s carbon-neutral goals, according to Dhawal Shah, MRAI senior vice president.

“Most companies will be going to the war room and finding ways to immediately and radically transform themselves – either by replacing their source of energy [if it’s fossil fuel-driven], and/or curtailing emissions at every stage of their production processes,” he said.

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