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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wealth from Waste-examples of byproducts over the ages.

One person's waste is another mans wealth. Besides the wealth in recycling municipal wastes, there are less heralded examples of the same, expounded on below.
  • The invention of the electric bulb rendered kerosense virtually obsolete in the developed world, but the popularization of the motor car led to the use of the(then) discarded byproduct gasoline
  • Till evacuation infrastructure, refining, end use, tankers and high oil prices made it feasible to use natural gas, it was routinely burnt('flared off') at the oil rig itself, as it was seen to be a wasteful byproduct. But now, natural gas is the new petroleum!
  • Cement plants produce fly ash for which disposal agencies were paid, but on realizing its potential to product tiles, bricks and fertilizers; those same plants now get thousands of rupees per ton. 
  • Foreigners pay for their trash to be taken away but Indian homes routinely sell their newspapers/other junk to scrap dealers('raddiwalas') at a good price.
  • Carbon credits have given incentives to asset owners to preserve the vintage assets, which were not yielding them much anyway, just for the purpose of avoiding pollution. 
  • The egg shell is discarded after use for food processing(egg powder/omlette etc), and is presently used by companies as source of calcium carbonate. Prof Anil Gupta tells us that the inner membrane of that shell is quite valuable given its wound healing properties. 

Moral:- Production/R&D and Management accountants should work together to design a robust MIS to capture the details of their waste. This will permit periodic tactical price comparisons and 'process or sell' decisions to increase the contribution.

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