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Topic 14

A “transition toolkit” for incentivisation, monitoring, and regulation of transitioning businesses to effective climate action regarding plastic waste and circularity

Mahesh Sankaran

Professor - Community & Ecosystems Ecology; National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (NCBS-TIFR)

Hari Dilip Kumar

Collaborator; Abhayraj Naik; Co-Founder; Initiative for Climate Action (ICA)

Abhayraj Naik

Co-Founder; Initiative for Climate Action (ICA)

Madhur Anand

Professor, School of Environmental Sciences, UOG; Director & PI, Anand Lab, GIER; University of Guelph (UOG); Guelph Institute for Environmental Research (GIER)

Geetanjali Vats

Senior Manager Plastic Sustainability Asia & ANZ; Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL)


There are emerging issues regarding the transition of Indian economies to circularity that we are still learning about and preparing to deal with. There is currently a slow transition of businesses in India into circularity and to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, there is a lack of awareness from those in power coupled with the perpetuation of legacy systems in order to maintain power structures. Most people view businesses as a money-making venture and not as an environmental, social economy. Patient capital is also required for these systems to be implemented and there is a lack of a systems viewpoint to implement the solutions. All these problems have led to a lack of accountability for externalities such as plastic waste and greenhouse gas emissions. These issues have also led to a lack of production capacity with acceptable bounds on negative externalities. For example, there is a lack of clean energy technology for legacy systems like plastic and coalmines. This leaves us with entrenched industries who lack research and development for sustainable business models. Many of these industries are also exposed to imminent risks from climate and sustainability issues. Further there is a lack of awareness, adequate policy signalling, best-practices and tools that add additional threats to Indian business and the economy in a rapidly changing world.
To address these issues, we see the need to systematically develop sustainable business models especially applying emerging technologies in order to balance externalities within free-market democratic- systems to address sustainability, climate and circular economies.


1. Identifying existing opportunities for effective climate action by Indian businesses especially in the business of waste and circularity.
2. Identifying the characteristics that underlie effective climate action for businesses, e.g., measuring effectiveness, balancing needs, and creating impact.
3. Develop an integrative strategy for incentivisation, monitoring, and regulation of transitioning businesses to effective climate action.
4. Development of a “transition toolkit” with pathways to enable regenerative business containing a proven pilot and financially sustainable business model for a particular high-value business case in India.


This project can:
1. Close the loop between societal challenges regarding climate action and empirical research.
2. Provide a tool for Indian businesses to progress towards climate action leading to increase in jobs and growth opportunities.
3. Demonstrate a pathway to a low carbon future that brings together business, science, and policy.
4. Create a unique network based on systems thinking linking academics and industry that can be expanded to other issues.
5. Enhance India's pursuit of the SDGs.
6. Provide an economic, political, and academic incentive for investment into climate action in India.

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