Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Unmanufacturing Revolution - Is it the future?

Today I came across an article about Apple wanting to sell refurbished iPhones in India. The author, Tim Culpan, goes on to state that India could disassemble the iPhone for Apple. In this, there could be much more value. I agree.

Unmanufacturing is organised processing of manufactured products to their basic salvageable state. It is not new. India is a leader in Ship-breaking. There is no reason to believe we can do far better in unmanufacturing for electronic goods too. For quite some time we have focussed on manufacturing jobs and manufacturing contributing to the GDP. There could be substantial value in this activity too. 

Electronic waste processing is just one aspect of the work. As companies focus more on sustainability and recycling, we should be able to process all products - automobiles (cars, ships, aeroplanes), electronic goods (computers, phones etc.) durables (washing machines and etc.) to demolition (processing of buildings etc.).

This is not waste processing - which is a different and also lucrative business. This is about high-value items being disassembled to recycle the critical parts such as precious metals etc.

Done at a large enough scale, in a proper systematic manner, it can open up huge opportunities for employment.