India could save $624 billion a year by 2050 if it adopts circular economy principles, according to a new report.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation in association with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) produced the new report on India which reveals a shift away from the more conventional and wasteful development path could transform the country’s fortunes.

An world-renowned advocate of the circular economy, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said: “Today’s linear ‘take, make, dispose’ economic model which relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy, is increasingly challenged in the long term. A circular economy is an attractive and viable alternative that businesses are already exploring.”

“This report builds on the Foundation’s previous analysis of the circular economy opportunity for Europe, by exploring for the first time the potential of applying the circular framework in a fast-growing market context. With its existing circular mindset and strong digital backbone, India can reap significant economic and societal benefits, embarking on a positive development path as it focuses on regenerative practices,” Dame Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Foundation, said.

Pilot projects have already demonstrated these methods can result in cost savings of hundreds of millions dollars per year.

“Increasing circularity can help unlock efficiencies, opening up urgent investment opportunities and delivering environmental, economic and social gains,” Guillermo Valles, Director for International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities, UNCTAD said. “Lessons from this work in India serve as an important example for other developing countries seeking to meet both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commitments in the Paris Agreement.”

Taking data from UNCTAD, the report says India could save costs amounting 11% of its current GDP in 2030 and 30% of GDP in 2050 if proven circular approaches were adopted by the public and private sectors. Greenhouse gas emissions could be cut by 44%.

India’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Ajit Kumar, added: “India is earnestly working towards finding ways to improve the living standards of its citizens, compatible with its resources. Sectors such as mobility, agriculture and construction will play a crucial role in the future growth of India. The suggestions contained in the report are therefore, noteworthy and timely.”