For our fourth episode, we had the chance to discuss planned obsolescence with Adèle Chasson, Public affairs manager at HOP. HOP is the leading NGO in France on the circular economy, repair and product durability. With a community of over 40,000 people, HOP litigated Apple on planned obsolescence and played a decisive role in the world-leading French anti-waste law. In this episode, we address several questions to understand planned obsolescence and the challenges we face to end it.
What is planned obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence is defined as a group of techniques through which a manufacturer or a marketer seeks to deliberately reduce the life cycle of a product in order to increase its replacement rate. There are three main types of planned obsolescence: technical obsolescence, software obsolescence, and aesthetic or cultural obsolescence.
Smartphones are an interesting example because they are very damaging for the environment and they combine the three types of planned obsolescence. First, smartphones are built to last for a short period of time. This means that they cannot be repaired easily, and manufacturers build phones that are not durable. Secondly, software often slows down phones, forcing us to change phones. Lastly, they face cultural obsolescence. In other words, phones are marketed in a way that encourages us to purchase a new phone every time a new model is brought to the market.
What are the environmental consequences of planned obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence can be very damaging for the environment. First, manufacturing is very polluting. Hence, encouraging consumption leads to excessive manufacturing. Second, planned obsolescence leads to an increase in waste. Very often this waste is not well recycled, polluting the environment.
Give the episode a listen to learn more about the battle against planned obsolescence.