Taking action to demand laws that reduce planned obsolescence

The Australian Earth Laws Alliance is one of the few organisations in Australia speaking out against planned obsolescence and providing solutions to reduce the practice.

We understand that shifting away from this practice will create a boom in meaningful employment for people in other industrial sectors such as product design, repair services and maintenance, resource recovery, waste minimisation and logistical services.

 

 

The problem with planned obsolescence

Planned obsolescence is an economic strategy to keep people buying the same type of product again, and again, in a saturated market. This may be done in various ways, including:

  • designing products so they break or stop working within a short timeframe;
  • making it difficult to repair or upgrade a product;
  • convincing consumers that products are no longer fashionable.

The environmental harm caused by this practice includes pollution in our waterways and oceans, pollutants in our atmosphere, deforestation, increased biodiversity loss, increased use of fossil fuels, and contributes to climate change[1]. And of course, the declining health of our environment also results in the decline of human health[2].

What you can do

Until 29 June 2018, all Australians have a unique opportunity to demand an end to planned obsolescence by contributing to the 2018 Review of the Product Stewardship Act.

Information about the 2018 Review of the Act can be found here.

There are several ways to share your views:

  • Attend a public community consultation forum for the Product Stewardship Act review. These meetings will be held in capital cities in May – June 2018. To register your interest, visit https://www.eventbrite.com.au/d/australia--australia/product-stewardship-forum/
  • Make your own submission to the reviewSubmissions are open until 29 June 2018. It's very important that the Government receive peoples' views in writing, so AELA is urging people to make their own submissions.  Your submission may be as simple and short as you like and can include a statement in support of AELA’s recommendations.  See our guide on making a submission here. A final copy of AELA’s Submission will be available on this website in mid June, please contact us via email if you want to receive a copy when it’s available, or sign up to our special mailing list below.
    • Join our FREE WEBINAR 18TH JUNE @ 6.30pm,  to get tips about making your own submssion
      If you'd like to chat with AELA folks and get tips and help preparing your submission, please join our FREE WEBINAR on Monday evening, June 18th at 6.30pm. To register for the webinar please email: annabelle@earthlaws.org.au
  • SIGN OUR PETITION! If you don't have time to create your own submission (and even if you do!), please sign our petition, and we'll lodge the petition with our submission to the PSA Review - https://www.change.org/p/department-of-environment-and-energy-stop-building-products-to-break-demand-stronger-laws-for-a-better-society-environment
  • Provide your email to be registered as a supporter of AELA’s submission.
    We will contact you closer to the date to advise how you can make your support official.


A summary of AELA’s recommendations is provided below

For more information about AELA’s campaign to challenge planned obsolescence, visit this webpage.

AELA’S Recommendations to the Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011

In its submission to the Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, AELA is recommending:

  1. Mandatory existing environmental design standards to be applied to all relevant products made, imported and sold in Australia. These standards would require Australian companies to manufacture, import or sell products that are designed to be durable and exist for their optimal lifetime, and that can easily be upgraded, repaired and recycled where technically possible.
  2. Amend the objects of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 (Cth) so that a core objective of the Act is to reduce energy and water use and reduce emissions.
  3. The Product Stewardship Act 2011 (Cth) should state that in considering the environmental impacts of products, decision makers will draw on contemporary scientific knowledge, and use an evidenced based approach. Environmental impacts of products must include an assessment of the life cycle of the product, and its contribution to the cumulative impactsof pollution and resource use.  Ecological integrity, Earth systems science and planetary boundaries should be explicitly mentioned in the Act, as the foundations for assessing environmental impacts of products.
  4. The Product Stewardship Act 2011 (Cth) should state that in considering the environmental impacts of products, decision makers recognise the rights of nature to exist, thrive, evolve and regenerate, and will assess the cumulative impactsof products on the ecological integrity and health of the natural world.

 

AELA’s proposed changes to the Act would strengthen the requirements placed on manufacturers and importers in Australia, and give consumers a stronger legal foundation for taking action under the Australian Consumer Law when products break or unable to be repaired.

Other actions you can take

In addition to contributing to the Review of the Act, you can take other action to reduce the impact of planned obsolescence

  • resist the temptation to upgrade perfectly working products;
  • consider the hierarchy of actions below:
    • refuse products you don’t need;
    • reduce the amount of products you buy:
    • repair your products where it is safe and possible to do so; and finally
    • recycle or upcycle products where possible.

For more information, email: annabelle@earthlaws.org.au.

References

[1] Schandl, H., Fischer-Kowalski, M., West, J., Giljum, S., Dittrich, M., Eisenmenger, N., Geschke, A., Lieber, M., Wieland, H., Schaffartzik, A., Krausmann, F., Gierlinger, S., Hosking, K., Lenzen, M., Tanikawa, H., Miatto, A. and Fishman, T., “Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity: Assessment Report for the UNEP International Resource Panel”, p18, United Nations Environment Programme, 2016.

[2]  Pruss-Ustun. A., Wolf. J., Corvalan. C., Bos. R., and Neira. M., “Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments: A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks”, World Health Organisation, 2016, accessed at http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/204585/9789241565196_eng.pdf;jsessionid=9B06453EB77AAF1308F05176010D95EA?sequence=1 on 5 April 2018.