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USD 4 Billion Market Potential of ZLD across 5 Industries by 2020 in India

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Sustainability Outlook
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March to Sustainability: Zero Liquid Discharge, an in-depth market assessment report, quantifies the market opportunity for ZLD at USD 4 billion (INR 270 billion) across five water intensive and highly polluting industries in India, i.e. Thermal Power (coal fired), Distillery (molasses based), Iron & Steel, Textile (wet processing) and Pulp & Paper (large wood based) by 2020.

The nation afflicted by water security as well as pollution crisis has necessitated actions to ensure reduction of industrial water footprint and appropriate treatment of effluent. Currently, Indian industries are operating well below the global best scenarios and Zero Liquid Discharge is a welcome move which is expected to have an accelerated uptake in the coming years.

The report highlights that the thermal power (coal fired) sector accounts for the largest share in the cumulative potential of USD 4 Billion (INR 270 Billion) amongst the five sectors analyzed by 2020. The opportunity for ZLD in the sector is on account of policy push and frequent cases of unit shut-downs due to unavailability of water for plant operations.

Molasses based distilleries sector follows second in terms of potential market share of ZLD. This is in line with the fact that the sector has a national ZLD mandate in the pipeline. The distilleries sector have a relatively strong business case for ZLD due to the additional revenue from by-products generated as a result of adoption of bio-compositing as a route for achieving ZLD in the sector.

The draft mandate for ZLD in the Iron & Steel sector is an impetus for it to adopt recycling and reuse of effluent stream, thus creating market opportunities for ZLD. The levelized cost of water considering the capex and opex for five years is likely to increase by around by 8 INR/m3 but the impact on end product price is likely to be a mere 0.3% increase.

The textile sector witnessed policy revision in late 2016, which is likely to decelerate the uptake of ZLD technologies and hence considerably reducing the market opportunities for ZLD by 2020. ZLD does involve huge investment and high operational expenditure but the impact on final product (garment in this case) is not very substantial. Though there is limited opportunity foreseen for 2017, the report assesses the future market potential which is expected to grow steadily on account of rising concerns of river pollution and water scarcity.

The Pulp & Paper sector at present does not have any ZLD mandate, however the Charter for Water Recycling & Pollution Prevention in Pulp & Paper Industry aims at making the industry efficient and sustainable in terms of water use. The industry is currently operating well below the global standards and is highly inefficient in terms of water use and also a major contributor to the pollution of India’s water resources. Of the three sub-segments (based on raw material used), the large wood based pulp & paper mill are highly polluting and much worse with respect to global specific water consumption of ~29 m3/MT. Thus, there is a high probability that the large wood based pulp & paper mill will be targeted first to lead the Pulp & Paper industry towards Zero liquid Discharge.

The report ascertains the geographies of highest market potential in textile, distillery and pulp & paper sector and does a deep dive on the technological pathway to achieve ZLD in all the five sectors thus computing the technology-wise market potential for ZLD. The opportunity analysis for the thermal and iron & steel sector has been done company-wise.

Though there is a significant  market opportunity for ZLD solutions in these sectors, the report also analyzes a few roadblocks for the uptake of ZLD by  industries such as low price of water leading to weak business case, high cost of implementation leading to reduced cost competitiveness in the national and global markets, lack of financing sources, disposal of solid by-product in certain sectors, escalated carbon footprint of the industry, technology limitations and lack of clarity in policy.  

In order to smoothen out the implementation pressures and drive the action agenda, focus should be on models of operation and capacity building of operators within industrial units which have also been assessed in detail in the report.

"Policy plays a very important role in ensuring sustainable growth of any country and with the current water scarce scenario in India, the industry also needs to be play a leading role and support strong actions like Zero Liquid Discharge to not only ensure their own business continuity but also safeguard the rights of the generations to come."

-Aparna Khandelwal

Sr. Engagement Manager, Sustainability Outlook

Media Contact

Anushua Chowdhury

Sustainability Outlook