The Azimuth Project
Planned obsolescence



Defined by Wikipedia as:

Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time.[1] Planned obsolescence has potential benefits for a producer because to obtain continuing use of the product the consumer is under pressure to purchase again, whether from the same manufacturer (a replacement part or a newer model), or from a competitor which might also rely on planned obsolescence.

For an industry, planned obsolescence stimulates demand by encouraging purchasers to buy sooner if they still want a functioning product. Built-in obsolescence is used in many different products. There is, however, the potential backlash of consumers who learn that the manufacturer invested money to make the product obsolete faster; such consumers might turn to a producer (if any exists) that offers a more durable alternative

There is also a related phenomenon: built-in obsolescence is based upon creating (or at least seeming to create) “better” products every few years so that consumers see no merit in repairing ageing items. There’s also a general trend towards designing without repairability as a criterion, and as a consequence many items are not repairable. A good example is typcial household refigerators: their efficiency has not noticeably increased over recent times, but elements such as the interior door “shelves” are typically made of single-cast, model specific piece of plastic. In the even this breaks it is generally impossible to repair, leading to “consumption” of another refrigerator unit.

You may also want to read about reduce, recycling and reuse in the context of economy at Economic growth and limitations.