Published 07/11/12

3 P's of sustainable manufacturing

Apple's abrupt withdrawal from an important environmental standard, and then its just-as-abrupt reinstatement, may be due to the company's difficulty in balancing the three Ps: profit, people, and planet, John Visich, associate professor of management, tells the industrial news site ThomasNet News.

In an article headlined "Apple's green flip-flop and the dilemma between product innovation and sustainability,"Visich noted that "Apple products are not big sellers in Europe and Asia, where consumers prefer lower-cost products. Therefore, Apple needs to lower prices, and the only way for them to do that and maintain profits for research and development is to decrease the cost of manufacturing."

He added that sustainable manufacturing is very difficult in the electronics business because of miniaturization, "which makes it much more difficult to disassemble the product because now everything is jam-packed in the case. While robotics and automated equipment can be used to assemble a high volume of products efficiently, automated equipment is not used much in the disassembly process. This makes disassembly and value recovery of components very costly."