Five facts relating to the DWIH focus topic “Sustainable innovations”

Wald vor Mumbai © iStockphoto/Umang Shrestha

Modular greenhouses for agriculture, electric buses for cities: India is driving sustainable innovations across the country.

One hundred million smallholder farmers could benefit from greenhouses designed with them specifically in mind.

The Indian startup Khyeti has developed an affordable greenhouse system tailored to the needs of smallholders. India is home to 100 million smallholders and is among the countries that are hit hardest by climate change. The modular “Greenhouse in a Box” system costs half the price of a normal greenhouse and comes with installation and on-site training. The package also provides farmers with high-quality seeds and fertilisers.

An Indian start-up is aiming to achieve a 98% reduction in air pollution from burning agricultural waste.

Takachar is based in New Delhi and has developed technology which drastically reduces the practice of large-scale burning of agricultural waste, which is widespread in Indian farming. They have developed a portable piece of machinery which can be towed by a tractor. It uses a controlled combustion process to transform crop residues into valuable products like biofuels, fertilisers and active carbon. This not only protects the environment but also generates an additional source of income for farmers.

The Indian government is planning to put 50,000 electric buses on the country’s roads by 2027.

Buses are the most important form of public transport in Indian cities, but this contributes to huge increases in fine particle pollution in urban areas. According to an IQAir study from 2021, of the world’s 50 cities with the worst air pollution, 35 are in India. One solution to this problem could be to electrify motorised public transport. The Indian government aims to put 50,000 electric buses on the country’s roads by 2027, going up from only 2,000 such vehicles in 2022. The state government in the country’s capital New Delhi recently announced its plans to electrify up to 80% of its bus fleet by 2025 and achieve 100% electrification by 2030.

Every year 100 million used tyres are recycled in India. Some of these can be re-used to manufacture tiles.

As India’s cities are rapidly growing, so is the pollution in these cities. New Delhi holds the current world record for the worst air pollution. One reason for this is that there are still few good ways of re-using “recovered Carbon Black” (rCB), the waste carbon which is generated when breaking down used tyres. The Indian start-up Carbon Craft uses rCB as a raw material to produce tiles, thereby avoiding high levels of particulate pollution given off when burning rCB.

The city of Mumbai has protected thousands of hectares of mangrove forest to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

Mumbai is home to one of the world’s largest urban tropical forests. For millions of people in the megacity, the trees provide a living barrier which protects them against floods and rising sea levels. As part of the Mumbai Climate Action Plan, the city authorities have now approved protection for several thousand hectares of mangrove forests, along with planting thousands more trees. The city is also planning to use other natural methods to improve air quality, reduce landslips, and cool the city in the face of extreme temperatures.