Published on August 3, 2009
Planned Obsolescence Life Cycle Thinking EcoNetwork 23rd July 2009 Ecodesign Centre Wales Leyla Acaroglu Director, Eco Innovators Melbourne, Australia www.ecoinnovators.com.au Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Planned Obsolescence Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
What is planned obsolescence? • The intentional failings of a product • The shortening of a products life • Manipulation of a market through product lifespans Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Definition of Planned Obsolescence “the deliberate policy of making a product become rapidly out of date or unserviceable, as by changing minor characteristics of a model, in order to ensure continual sale of new goods”. - The Macquarie Dictionary (2005, p1459) Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Descriptions Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
When did it start and why? • Great Depression and post World War economy • Used to stimulate economic growth and generate employment and combat ‘frugality’ • Wanted to facilitate growth by making people have to consume more frequently • Corporations realised they could make more profits from continual consumption • Create long term sales volumes by reducing the time between repeat purchases Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Does it really exist? • Count how many mobile phones you have owned and list the reasons that you had to purchase a new one • Consider how often your have had to replace household electrical items such as kettles and toasters Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Vance Packard and the Waste Makers • The Waste Makers was published in the 1960s and set out to expose the social and environmental degradation resulting from wasteful society and planned obsolescence in products • “the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals”. Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
• “our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfactions, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate” ‐ George Nelson, Industrial Designer Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Types of Planned Obsolescence Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Technical • Technical: an existing product becomes dated when a new product is introduced that improves the function of the product in some way. Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Aesthetic • Aesthetic (style): a product that is still functional becomes unfashionable in our minds because styling changes make it less desirable. Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Functional • Functional: when a product is intended to break down or wear out within a given time. Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Service / system • When the service of system that supports the product is changed or altered to encourage the consumption of a newer product Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Notification • Lights or parts that change colour to inform consumers that they need to purchase a replacement product even through the product will still function Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Advantages Manufacturers • Increased revenue from sales • Repeat customers • Seen as a technological leader, rapid innovation Consumers • Cheaper upfront purchasing costs • Satisfaction of buying the latest,, safest or ‘best’ products • Being a ‘trend setter’ or fashionable • Being able to afford to have ‘everything’ Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Disadvantages Manufacturers • Increased dissatisfaction from customers • Legal ramifications • Bad reputation / media coverage Consumers • Competitive consumption ‐ "keeping up with the Jones" • Forced into continual consumption cycles • Ongoing replacement or upgrading costs • Pressure to consume from advertising, peers and media Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Why is PO a problem? • Environmental impacts • Because everything created comes from nature • All resources are finite, some more then others • Creates inequity as consumers are not in control or aware of the lifespan of the products that they purchase • Promotes wasteful society Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Product Life Cycles Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Designer influences • Over 80% of a products social and environmental implications are decided and ‘locked in’ at the design stage (USA EPA) • Designer’s are the agents that have some of the greatest capacity to dictate the social and environmental implications of consumer goods Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Resource extraction • All resources come from nature at some stage • Resources are finite and should be used conservatively • Equity issues around the use and waste of resources • Generates huge amounts of waste Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Manufacturing • Inputs includes: materials, energy, water etc • Outputs include carbon emissions, waste water, toxic substances, waste materials etc • Equity issues with current manufacturing practices Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Packaging & Transportation • Transport and packaging happens at EVERY stage of a products life • Greater impacts from air and road transportation • Over packaging is a waste of resources Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Use • Resource use during life such as energy or water etc • Continual consumables such as cartridges or cleaning products creates impacts • Equity issues over safety, toxicity etc Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
End of Life • Loss of resources to landfill • Limited recycling systems and capacity in different countries • Recycling is often ‘down cycling’ Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Ramifications of PO Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Final Thoughts • Its not someone else responsibility to solve social and environmental problems – its everyone's responsibility • Designer’s are in a unique position to influence change over corporations and consumers alike • Don’t wait to be asked – just do it • Be a subversive designer Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
Thanks for your time Questions: email@example.com Leyla Acaroglu :: www.EcoInnovators.com.au
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