Anant National University Leads Dialogue on Industrial Symbiosis in India

Anant National University (AnantU)

The Centre for Sustainability at Anant National University is working to solve the alarming mismanagement of industrial solid waste disposal in industrial estates in India which has led to numerous nuisances such as irregular handling and disposal of waste materials into landfills. These pose a serious threat to human life and the ecology.

In a pioneering research study undertaken by the Centre for Sustainability (CFS), an intensive survey has collected information on the non-hazardous industrial waste produced by 60 industries located in the Naroda Industrial Estate in Gujarat. The CFS has extrapolated the monetary, social, and carbon flows between industries and various formal and informal actors, such as government officials, industrial associations, waste pickers, neighbouring waste processors operating within and around the Naroda Industrial Estate in Gujarat. It is in the process to propose a solution-oriented framework.

The Centre for Sustainability has found that the reutilisation or commercialisation of waste of one industry by another has failed in Naroda Industrial Estate. Furthermore, minimal commercialisation of waste has resulted in hazardous practices such as open burning or hoarding of garbage in landfills which has polluted the environment.

In December 1998, a research funded by the German Ministry for Education and Research suggested potentially beneficial industrial symbiosis initiatives in Naroda Industrial Estate, such as conversion of high concentrations of H2SO4 to commercial-grade FeSO4, sale of chemical gypsum to cement manufacturers, reduction of impurities and hazardous content in iron sludge produced by dye manufacturing industries, so that they may be used by brick manufacturers, and convert industrial waste to biogas. These suggestions are yet to be put in place.

According to Gokulram, Research Associate, Centre for Sustainability, Anant National University, “Indian industrial estates have unique characteristics. For example, in Naroda, the majority of informal waste pickers and dealers belong to one specific community. They try to hold the community together by organising sports events and festivals and by creating social media groups. This helps them in enlisting new members to the supply chain of waste management”.

Abhishek Kumar, Associate Professor and Director, Training and Development, Anant National University, says, “In my view, non-hazardous waste must be treated as a business and social opportunity by the generating organisation, and appropriate processes may be put in place to either derive maximum commercial benefit or to ensure minimum hazard is wreaked on the planet.”

To take the process further the CFS at Anant National University organised a round table meeting on 14 December 2019, on challenges and opportunities of industrial symbiosis in Indian industrial estates. The meeting took place with leading researchers and experts examining the latest trends and solutions in this field, as well as the Centre presenting its ongoing research and findings so far on the issue at the Naroda Industrial Estate.

The objective of this meeting was to explore the possibilities and benefits of effecting synergies among the companies in industrial estates and to evolve a practical framework for effective utilisation of non-hazardous waste.

According to Miniya Chatterji, Founding Director of the Centre for Sustainability at Anant National University, “The dumping of non-hazardous industrial solid waste has only received insufficient attention in India. We believe that by establishing industrial estates that are inherently designed for industrial symbiosis and providing practical frameworks for solutions to existing ones, we can vastly reduce the quantum of industrial waste generated in India while creating value.”

About Anant National University:- Anant National University (AnantU), located in a lush green campus in Ahmedabad, is India’s first Design University. It is committed to nurturing Solutionaries, revolutionary thinkers with a solution-oriented mindset. AnantU is led by eminent leaders from academia, business, and government. Its President, Mr Ajay Piramal, Chairman of the Piramal Group, is one of India’s leading industrialists and philanthropists. Founding Provost and Board member, Dr Pramath Raj Sinha, has played a pivotal role in bringing innovation to the education sector. He is the Founding Dean, Indian School of Business, and Founder & Trustee, Ashoka University. AnantU’s Provost, Dr Anunaya Chaubey, former Deputy Dean, Young India Fellowship, has over thirty years of experience as an educator with strong administrative and academic acumen. The University currently offers full-time programmes at Bachelor’s and Master’s levels in Design, Architecture and Built Environment.