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Dr. Satya Gupta

Dr. Satya Gupta: He is Co-founder of EPIC Foundation and also President, VLSI Society of India

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Repair Startup Ecosystem Can Ease Environment Stress

The repair economy is worth $100 billion, and we can harvest the abundant talent we have in the country, the innate Indian sensibilities to reuse products, to create greater value for all

The world over, across all sectors, green technology companies are rewriting the rules of corporate behaviour. Thinking green is no longer a good to have ideology, and is an imperative that we cannot ignore any more. With 1.2 degrees C baked into the earth already, we have no time to waste, warns the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the world’s key resource on climate matters. We need to devise sustainable paths ahead; or else we will continue to see unpredictable weather events wreaking havoc, with sudden floods, cyclones, or heat waves happening with even greater frequency, threatening lives, food and water security, whether it’s Uttarakhand or Utrecht, fury of nature impacts us all. All countries have to take on emission-reduction targets. More than half of the world’s GDP, i.e., $44 trillion of economic value is moderately or highly exposed to risks from climate impact.

With SEBI looking at corporate governance from the ESG lens, India Inc is witnessing an increasing focus on sustainability. ESG investments rose to $650 million in FY21 as against $275 million in FY20. According to The 2021 State of the Data Center Report by AFCOM, 65% of companies are turning to renewable energy sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too has been emphasizing the Mission Circular Economy to ease climate stress.

To lighten carbon impact, and to look at sustainability holistically, for people, planet and profits, huge opportunity is emerging in the Repair, Reuse and Recycle space. A study by Ellen MacArthur Foundation points out that a circular economy in India will bring an annual benefit of Rs 40 lakh crore by 2050, and reduce GHG emissions by 44 per cent.

Historically, strategy was all about markets and how to compete. With the advent of path-breaking new technologies, we are now able to be far more contextual and relevant right from the design stage. We can design products that are repairable, and thus extend their life cycle. But with the vast penetration of the digital economy, we need to look at digital repairs in a more organised way, and not allow the product to be compromised in any way further, by way of efficacy or security. It’s alarming for an economy to keep dumping mobile phones or tablets after 1-2 years of use. Think of the huge e-waste problem and the huge mineral and other resources needed to create new products. In 2019, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste were generated worldwide, up 21% in just five years, according to the UN global e-waste Monitor 2020. Irresponsible dumping of e-waste leads to loss of dumping of useful resources such as iron, steel, copper, and aluminium, that can go into recycling plants. Moreover, dumping of toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame-retardants (BFR) or chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), that are part of many electronic equipment, pose serious hazards to human health and the environment.

When products are repairable, they can be used for longer times. Moreover, a repair economy creates job potential for those who may know a bit or two about electronics but may not be able to get into mainstream occupations. Even after repair, if you still want to discard a product, 90% of its components can be refurbished or put to use elsewhere in some other product. Products that are repairable ensure greater economic, social and environmental good. The repair economy is worth $100 billion, and we can harvest the abundant talent we have in the country, the innate Indian sensibilities to reuse products, to create greater value for all.

The world over right to repair movement is gaining momentum, and some of the largest companies are supporting this, like Apple and Microsoft. Some governments are also introducing right to repair policies. New York is the latest to have introduced such legislation, called the Digital Fair Repair Act,

which will allow customers to get their damaged or broken electronic products repaired at any repair centre of their choice, and not just with the original maker.

The world over, across all sectors, green technology companies are rewriting the rules of corporate behaviour. Thinking green is no longer a good to have ideology, and is an imperative that we cannot ignore any more. With 1.2 degrees C baked into the earth already, we have no time to waste, warns the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the world’s key resource on climate matters. We need to look at sustainable paths ahead, or else we will continue to see unpredictable weather events wreaking havoc, with sudden floods, cyclones, or heat waves happening with even greater frequency, threatening lives, food and water security. Whether it’s Uttarakhand or Utrecht, fury of nature impacts us all. All countries have to take on emission-reducing targets, as more than half of the world’s GDP, i.e., $44 trillion of economic value is moderately or highly exposed to risks from climate impact.


With SEBI looking at corporate governance from the ESG lens, India Inc is witnessing an increasing focus on sustainability. ESG investments rose to $650 million in FY21 as against $275 million in FY20. According to The 2021 State of the Data Center Report by AFCOM, 65% of companies are turning to renewable energy sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi too has been emphasizing innovative ways to beat climate stress. Push towards electric mobility, Vehicle Scrap Policy, Mission Circular Economy, National Hydrogen Mission, International Solar Alliance, are some ways the government is building on the momentum to meet greenhouse gas reduction goals.


To lighten carbon impact, and to look at sustainability holistically, for people, planet and profits, huge opportunity is emerging in the Repair, Reuse and Recycle space. A study by Ellen MacArthur Foundation points out that a circular economy in India will bring an annual benefit of Rs 40 lakh crore by 2050, and reduce GHG emissions by 44 per cent.


Historically, strategy was all about markets and how to compete. With the advent of path-breaking new technologies, we are now able to be far more contextual right from the design stage. We can design products that are repairable, and thus extend their life cycle. But with the vast penetration of the digital economy, we need to look at digital repairs in a more organised way, and not allow the product to be compromised in any way further, by way of efficacy or security. It’s alarming for an economy to keep dumping mobile phones or tablets after 1-2 years of use. Think of the huge e-waste problem and the huge mineral and other resources needed to create new products. In 2019, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste were generated worldwide, up 21% in just five years, according to the UN global e-waste Monitor 2020. Irresponsible dumping of e-waste leads to loss of dumping of useful resources such as iron, steel, copper, and aluminium, that can go into recycling plants. Moreover, dumping of toxic and hazardous substances such as mercury, brominated flame-retardants (BFR) or chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), that are part of many electronic equipment, pose serious hazards to human health and the environment.

When products are repairable, they can be used for longer times. Moreover, a repair economy creates job potential for those skilled in electronics repair and maintenance, but may have got left behind in the job race. Even after repair, if you still want to discard a product, 90% of its components can be refurbished or put to use elsewhere in some other product. Products that are repairable ensure greater economic, social and environmental good. The repair economy is worth $100 billion, and we can harvest the abundant talent we have in the country, the innate Indian sensibilities to reuse products, to create greater value for all.

There is huge potential for start-up activity in the repair space. Pune-based GarageWorks is using technology and data to standardise two-wheeler repairs. Bengaluru’s RepairMyGadgets repairs phones, laptops, gaming consoles, and there are many more such examples. Globally, Fixt, TechBuddy, Geekatoo, Save, Reconome are some startups that provide repair and refurbishing solutions.

As per NASSCOM, India’s digital talent is growing 5x times faster than core talent. We are the third-largest start-up nation in the world. With so much of disruptive talent, we can drive even better efficiencies in our response to climate goals. A repair start-up ecosystem is one way to get rid of reckless consumption that causes stress to the environment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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