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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

Planned Product Obsolescence - No Longer A Secret


It may be hard for us to accept, but the circular economy is not in play when it comes to most electronic gadgets. Many have built-in death dates, and it is no longer a secret.

I did a quick search and found many products that could stop working in 3 to 4 years because of planned obsolescence. It could be a simple as not being able to replace a battery. But think about what throwing millions of those gadgets away each year does to the environment.

Let's get going on design through a circular economy, to do the world a world of good by reducing use of resources, by repairing and reusing those gadgets.

Some of the Culprits

Electronic Toothbrush

My dentist suggested an electronic toothbrush, relegating my old trusted and handy manual brush to the bin under the sink. It is still good, so no way I am throwing that out!

To my surprise, I found the electric toothbrush has a battery that cannot be replaced. In fact, it is so ensconced inside that the suggestion is a hammer will be required to take it out to throw it away.

The batteries will last 2 - 3 years and cannot be replaced. Glued inside, the only alternative is to throw out an otherwise perfect toothbrush and buy a new one – or maybe I will go back to my handy manual one.

Ear Buds

The ear buds have glued-in batteries that cannot be replaced. Just think how many pairs are thrown away each year because of planned obsolescence and certainly not doing the world a world of good.

For a Comprehensive List

For brevity, I am only showing a couple of products. There are 100's that have not been designed with the circular economy in mind - this is planned obsolescence as the manufacturers wants us to buy – and what do most of us do? We buy their new products. We are as part of the problem as we are the solution.

For a list of more products that have built-in obsolescence, have a look at "Gadget Graveyard" by the Washington Post.

Why Isn’t Recycling the Solution?

Because in many cases, recycling just does not work. Especially in the electronics’ industry. For example, the United States exports about 50,000 tons of electronic waste to India each year. Less than 12% is recycled. Out of sight, out of mind, we increase greenhouse gas pollution to recycle products that just get thrown away. For more information on this, see one of my previous articles, Consequence of a

The Consumer Challenge

The challenge for consumers is to not accept this throw- away stuff. We have all the power in our pockets and if we want a better world, we have to think about doing the world a world of good by demanding reusable and repairable products.

There are companies out there that are listening; have you bought a “GoPro”? They have replaceable batteries and there are other responsible companies doing their best to design reusable and repairable products.

From a consumer stand-point, all we have to do is decide we are not going to buy the throw-away products. Watch how fast the market adjusts – all towards doing the world a world of good by incorporating the circular economy into their business.

Sustainable Circular Economy

And that is where Sustainable Circular Economy Can help. We see the discussion about how we are going to get there as critical and no one wants to be left holding the bag.

We are 100 percent supportive of establishing goals to reduce our global carbon footprint and helping companies and individuals to do their part.

Our business is helping to do the world a world of good, by offering a pathway through the circular economy principled upon people, the planet and profit.

Together we can do this, but it will take knowing what is required, and discussion and commitment about how we are going to get there considering the people, the planet and profit – the basis for the circular economy.

Let’s have those discussions, and if you wish to know how to get there in your business, call on us at Sustainable Circular Economy. We offer a free consultation to discuss how we can help you seize an era of opportunity and innovation in the new environmental landscape.

Best Wishes

Sustainable Circular Economy

Vancouver, Canada

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