First assignment of group n° 107


Resources used by the team


Book : Bon pour la casse ! Les déraisons de l’obsolescence programmée, Serge LATOUCHE



Book : "The affluent society", Kenneth Galbraith (La Société d’Abondance)



Book : The Waste Makers, Vance Packard



Book : Made to Break - Technology and Obsolescence in America, Giles Slade



Book : Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence, Bernard London



Book : Obsolescence programmée ? Arnaud Vareille


BLEY Thomas

Book : Obsolescence Programmee et Desir de Paraitre Broché, Jennifer Datez


First description of our project

Planned obsolescence, how to fight without impact the economy

1. What Problem do you want to solve ?

The planned obsolescence is a concept used by companies, but most frequently by companies who manufacture electronic products. This concept is used in order to compel consumers to buy new electronic goods. Indeed, companies use raw materials to create the product therefore, few years after the purchase, the consumer have to by the same product. There are two sorts of obsolescence: - The first one is functional. Technical reason: the product is unusable because of components which are unrepairable so on we can’t change it. This functional obsolescence is due to technical evolution. - The second one is psychological obsolescence: when consumers want to change their product because of the trend (mainly esthetic changes) or because there are new functionalities on the new products.

This fact brings two major issues: - Environmental problems: electronic devices as television, mobile phone and computers. Companies’ innovation on new products makes the old ones obsolete. Accordingly there is an accumulation of waste and a disappearing of natural resources. - Economic problem for consumers: with the economic crisis, planned obsolescence affects purchasing power.

We would like to think about a solution for the environment and for consumers.

2. Why does this problem exist?

The problem of planned obsolescence is born with the consumption society. The manufacturer created this technique to be sure that the consumers will always buy their products. Indeed, with the mass consumption, they fear that all the consumer’s needs were satisfy, and if the products would be durable, they won’t buy new products anymore. That is why manufacturers had to find something that prevent consumers from being satisfy forever and keep growing consumption. Before this turning-point in manufacturing process, most of products were produced with a view to be the most durable as possible. We can just mention the example of Ford, with his model T, which stayed the same model during decades, because it was a durable model. However, since the competitor’s strategy was to update models each year to boost sales, Ford had to follow this strategy to compete. From that moment, all kind of products saw their duration time reduced through new process of production. The goal for manufacturers is to make duration-limited products, to be sure that the consumer will buy again. Obsolescence could existing also through fashion, as firms make the most to make people think that their products are out-of-fashion. They force them unconsciously to believe that the new one is better for them. In the same idea, firms release many updates of a product in a short-time, to force people to buy if they want to be up-to-date. Where obsolescence seems to be the most concrete, is in planned death of products. They stop to run, even if in fact they still are able to. But we could also find obsolescence when a device really device really breakdown, and that repair is extremely complicated, what force people to rather buy a new one. It I obvious that the problem of planned obsolescence still exist since it supply the whole economy. It affords the sales to keep on increasing, that is the reason why it still not abolish despite the negative effect on consumers and on the environment. Moreover, most of FMN are support this process, and they represent a real economic power, which is difficult to attack. Because of the capitalistic model in place in our economy, firms are opposed to the breakdown of planned obsolescence, since most of proposed solutions go against the benefit pursuit.

3. What breakthrough are you commited to creating?

We are committed to find solution to fight against planned obsolescence to tackle these problems: 1. Our wastes do not feed the production of new goods. Indeed, every year, nearly 60 billion tons of resources are extracted. At this rate, the easiest exploitable deposits were soon exhausted, prompting industrialists to seek new resources with increasingly invasive and destructive techniques. These transformed resources become objects and with the planned obsolescence become wastes quite faster. We could think about recycling, but only few materials can be retrieved.

2. Recycling is good, extend the service life is better We mean that recycling helps limiting the collection of new resources, but power hungry and often requires the use of polluting processes (acid baths for example). Moreover, this is better to reuse and lengthen a maximum lifetime of our objects which required extraction as natural resources upstream

We also would like to find a solution which won’t be harmful with producer benefits because we know that planned obsolescence is actually a way to earn money and beneficial to the economy

Potential experts already identified

We thought to question the environmental specialists and entrepreneur ( companies like Boulanger, which are specialized in new technologies)

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