Defective electronic equipment – accidental or pre-meditated?
Federal Environment Agency commissions obsolescence study
It has happened to nearly everyone at one time or another: one’s mobile phone or expensive digital camera becomes defective before the end of its predicted service life and can only be repaired, if at all, at high cost. This phenomenon of a product’s natural or artificially influenced wear is called obsolescence. Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), remarks, “There are many types of obsolescence – built-in, psychological and technical. But no matter how it comes about, the premature wear of consumer goods has a negative impact on our consumption of resources.” There has been a great deal of public debate about the phenomenon, especially in connection with electrical and electronic equipment. Since there is a lack of scientifically robust data on the premature wear of consumer goods, the UBA has commissioned research to take a closer look at the issue. The study will examine the question of how long a product must be kept up-to-date and able to operate. The study also seeks to determine the extent to which manufacturers accept premature defects or might even consciously build in weak links, in other words, planned obsolescence. “Since the current debate focuses almost exclusively on individual cases, the main objective of the study is to produce systematic data that can be used to make a sound evaluation of the phenomenon and with which to issue recommendations for action“, says Jochen Flasbarth.