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Planned obsolescence is a manufacturing policy that consists in making a product whose time of life has been purposefully scheduled.
Thanks to this system, manufacturers can shorten the time of life of a given item.
As a consequence, consumers will have to replace their appliances regularly.
In some cases, manufacturers willingly add flaws when designing their products.
This technique is particuliarly used for household and electrical appliances, computers and peripheral devices, rolling-element bearing machines, cars, electronic devices or reloadable items.
Planned obsolescence is the result of a set of techniques that will shorten the life of a given item so as to boost consumption. This will benefit the manufacturer as well as his competitiors and will increase profits, improve technological knowledge to go on managing the rate of replacement of products.
Obviously, this strategy has an impact on the environment as it leads to oversconsuption. Tons of wastes from the western countries (from discarded products that could technically go on working) are dumped into lands that are used as landfills and become seriously polluted and hazardous areas (eg Ghana or India).
Different types of planned obsolescence
There are different ways to plan a product's time of life, from adding a flaw to a product that will break down or relying on more psychological aspects so as to force the consumer to discard an item that will look old-fashioned or outdated.
- The Light Bulb Conspiracy documentary on obsolescence by Cosima Dannoritzer, 2010.
- The story of stuff documentary on the life cycle of goods.