Responsible semiconductor manufacturing in India

As the race for setting up new semiconductor production units is at an all-time high globally, keeping sustainability in focus is becoming increasingly critical. Semiconductor manufacturing generates significant air emissions and liquid and solid waste. Many of the materials used in the production process have to be transported to the manufacturing plant (FAB/ATMP) adding to the carbon footprint all through the semiconductor manufacturing value chain.

Semiconductor Production results in the consumption of huge amounts of water (millions of gallons per day) and has major requirements for power. Semiconductor manufacturing process results in emissions from the use of highly toxic chemicals and gases and generates hazardous waste.

Many semiconductor manufacturers and suppliers in the value chain have adopted programs and initiatives such as: Improving the efficiency of and reuse of power and water, Materials research for greener materials (chemicals, gases, minerals), use of renewable power sources, optimising power consumption, Recycling and treatment of hazardous waste.  In spite of all these efforts, global semiconductor manufacturers have been facing growing scrutiny on their sustainability practices.  Sustainability in the semiconductor production value chain is still a matter of concern and requires attention. There is also increased consumer awareness and demand for electronic products that use sustainable and socially responsible manufacturing processes.

The India context:

The government of India has announced a comprehensive program for the development of the semiconductors and display manufacturing ecosystem in India with an outlay of ₹ 76,000 crores (>10 billion USD). The programme contains various schemes to attract investments in the field of semiconductors and display manufacturing. This includes fiscal support of 50% of Project Cost on a pari-passu basis for setting up of Semiconductor Fabs in India. The Government has also set up the India Semiconductor Mission to drive long-term strategies for developing a sustainable semiconductor and display ecosystem.

Several global and domestic companies have indicated their interest to set up Fabs/Foundries and Packaging Units in response to the incentives and programs announced by the Government of India.  While this is encouraging for the Indian industry and economy and in India’s ambition for becoming a “Semiconductor Nation”, it is important to include a strong focus on sustainability and ESG in semiconductor manufacturing.

Reducing environmental impact in the Semiconductor manufacturing process will require the adoption of new technologies in the semiconductor manufacturing process and innovation across the manufacturing value chain. Innovation in areas like process innovation, sustainable materials, optimizing the use of resources – (Power, water), Disposal of Hazardous waste, recycling, reuse, and application of new capabilities of industry 4.0 can offer an opportunity for India to incorporate sustainable semiconductor manufacturing practices.  

Some of the other areas that require attention include building responsible supply chains for the semiconductor manufacturing process, creating and implementing Semiconductor manufacturing industry specific environmental safety policies and guidelines, providing Incentives for R&D and innovation for sustainability in Semiconductor manufacturing and formulating Regulations on use of outdated or older generation semiconductor manufacturing processes and semiconductor manufacturing equipment

There is also a need for developing and nurturing Skilled manpower in the areas such as manufacturing process innovation, Materials research, supply chain management, industry 4.0, Recycling and waste disposal, renewable energy, water management amongst others.

Sustainability in the semiconductor production value chain is a matter of concern and there is a need to look both upstream and downstream of the semiconductor manufacturing process in addition to  the direct operational footprint of semiconductor production plants. The Government, industry and academia in have the opportunity to accelerate innovation in sustainability and position India as a leader in Sustainable Semiconductor manufacturing.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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