Material Flows in the Indian Pulp-and-Paper and Steel Manufacturing Sectors in India

By Shourjomay Chattopadhyay (presenting author)1, Ramanuj Mitra2, Nandini Kumar1, Sachin Joshi1

1: Confederation of Indian Industry – ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development, India; 2: Centre for Responsible Business, 6, Special Institutional Area, India


In the period 2003 to 2017, India’s GDP grew at 7.11%, but the import and the gap between import and export has risen at a much higher CAGR of 13% and 18% respectively. Rising populations and urbanization have increased the pressure on natural resources to unsustainable levels, underscoring the need for India to move away from the linear economic model towards a circular economy (CE).

The current study used material flow analysis in two sectors of the Indian economy, pulp and paper, and steel manufacturing. Based on entity-level data and national level production figures collected by a combination of primary and secondary research, respectively, supported by validations in stakeholder consultations, a material flow diagram was developed for both the steel and paper sectors.

In the steel sector, 71% of the iron-bearing material (IBM) required to make crude steel comes from iron ore, suggesting the potential for increasing scrap-use in the value chain. Reduced extraction of virgin ore will lead to benefits in terms of reduced GHG emissions and improvements in air quality by the avoided processes throughout the life cycle, from extraction to end-of-life. The study recommends a transition towards hydrogen based DRI (H-DRI) technology. A complete transition to it would translate to savings of 17 to 19 MT of coal.

In the pulp and paper industry, the scope for increasing efficiency in mills using recovered paper is significant. The paper industry depends heavily on imported waste paper: it is estimated that 32% of demand is met by importing recovered paper.

Approaches based on tools such as MFA would help industry and policy-makers to take data-driven decisions.: for industry, this could be in the form of initiating R&D on a variety of aspects; policy would be better informed.