Monday, June 1, 2015

French Law to Curb Planned Obsolescence

by Masha Limpahan

A lot of our discussions around planned obsolescence have involved personal accountability and actions that we, as consumers, can take in order to force companies into making more sustainable products. France, however, is taking a different route with actual policy change. The law is simple; rather than requiring companies to make longer-lasting products, the law simply requires them to inform consumers of the expected life span of the product and how long replacement parts will be available. Another measure comes into effect next year that will enforce a, mandatory, two year warranty.

The genius of these policies is that the government is not ‘intruding’ in business, a subject which often creates controversy in a society that is built on capitalism, however, companies will have to create longer-lasting products in order to beat their competitors. These laws are still placing the power in the consumer’s hands by requiring nothing more than transparency from companies, and a guarantee that their product will last longer than two years.

These ideas are not new. This 2012 article from The American Society of Mechanical Engineers discusses possible policy changes that are almost identical to the new 
laws in France.

The question is, can the U.S. ever take responsibility for this economically and environmentally destructive practice and implement policy changes to limit it?

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