Planned obsolescence is a strategy used to make products obsolete, leading to their premature replacement. The result is the over-exploitation of natural resources, increased waste and detrimental social impacts. It is a known practice in consumer electronics and affects other industries as they put profit before consequence.
A ground-breaking new book, Understanding Planned Obsolescence looks at the causes, cost and impact of planned obsolescence. It considers the legal and economic frameworks to overcome the practice and how to mitigate its effects. It also unearths new patterns of production and consumption highlighting more sustainable development models. Including a wide range of case studies from Europe, USA and South America, Understanding Planned Obsolescence is a vital step forward for the future of business and academia alike.
"Planned obsolescence is a common practice in product design; for example, in the computer industry. From a business point of view, it makes sense to deliberately shorten the life cycle of a product – think of your smartphone – to stimulate consumption. From a sustainability perspective, such a business strategy is obscene and should be banned. This book provides the wider conceptual, ethical and legal framework of sustainable development so that the reader can fully appreciate the wastefulness of planned obsolescence. It makes invaluable reading for consumers, environmental lawyers, regulators and everyone concerned with a sustainable future and what the law can do about it."
– Professor Klaus Bosselmann, The University of Auckland
"This book is an absolute reference on planned obsolescence; it overcomes strictly technical or environmental visions to replace them, giving meaning and understanding in a broader economic and political context. The author does not merely describe a phenomenon, but presents a range of possible solutions. A great success."
– Thierry Libaert, initiator and main rapporteur on the European Economic and Social Committee opinion on Planned Obsolescence
"As consumers in the 21st century, we have become accustomed to the frequent updates of technology, features, fast fashion and when something frustratingly breaks right after the warranty has expired. This is at the heart of 'understanding planned obsolescence' and its critical impact on sustainability and civilization. Kamila Pope provides competent, thought-provoking arguments, ideas for political, social and legal changes as well as real-world cases relating to this complex topic. This is a compelling must-read for anyone who wants to understand, advocate and implement pragmatic proposals for more environmentally balanced patterns of production and consumption."
– Nandini Basuthakur, Chief Operating Officer and Board Advisor, Procurement Leaders
"A thorough study describing the emergence and generalization of planned obsolescence in our growthist economies, as well as its harmful social and environmental consequences. We urgently need a paradigm shift to put humanity back at the heart of our economic choices and ensure that the possibility of living for the whole planet comes before growth. Understanding what is at stake in tackling planned obsolescence is a first step to take action."
– Pascal Durand, French Member of the European Parliament in the Greens Group, rapporteur of a parliamentary initiative report on a longer lifetime for products in Europe
"Understanding Planned Obsolescence is full of interesting insights and fresh ideas about postmodern production and consumption patterns and their destructive impacts on the environment. This book sends an important message: that it is possible to adopt socio-environmentally responsible productive behaviour in relation to durability of goods. It is a must-read that comes at a strategic time, following the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals."
– Dr Elena Aydos, Lecturer and LLM Program Convenor, Newcastle Law School, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
"Using an interdisciplinary approach, Kamila Pope offers us the most innovative legal tools to combat the scourge of planned obsolescence and thus bring us closer to achieving goal number 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns."
– Mario Peña Chacón, director of Masters in Environmental Law at the University of Costa Rica
"This work on Planned Obsolescence has presented a holistic viewpoint on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns through the lenses of legal, political, and judicial instruments. As the circular economy recognizes the importance of physical and social limits of the environment, systemic strategy and thinking serve as the cornerstone towards the SDGs achievement."
– (Anthony) Shun Fung Chiu, University Fellow and Professor, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
"At the confluence of environmental protection, consumer behaviour and corporate responsibility, planned obsolescence is increasingly on the agenda. A detailed analysis of this challenging subject from the legal point of view was missing. Now this gap has been bridged."
– Alexandra Aragão, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Coimbra, Portugal
"Planned obsolescence is one of the many aspects of the mismatch between the aim of sustainability and the economy of contemporary societies, because it intensifies the pressure on natural resources to fulfill human needs. Although most legal systems and international regimes provide for environmental protection and natural resources conservation, planned obsolescence practices are not being properly restrained. Kamila Pope's book addresses this problem. It discusses possible solutions but also proposes a deep reflection regarding the relationship of the theories of Ecological Economics and the Environmental Rule of Law as a path for the densification of the concept of sustainability. This theoretical construction, made by the author, is shown as a good basis for legal solutions to tackle planned obsolescence."
– Ana Maria Nusdeo, Environmental Law Professor, University of São Paulo Law School
"This is an excellent book that represents a major achievement as it successfully tackles a difficult but extremely important topic from an interdisciplinary perspective and manages to skilfully blend a highly readable style with insightful critical analysis."
– Dr Stephen Turner, Senior Lecturer, University of Lincoln, UK
Section - ONE: Identifying the causes, consequences and history of planned obsolescence
Chapter - 01: Consumer society: A product of the growthist economy
Chapter - 02: Planned obsolescence as an instrument of the growthist economy and its socio-environmental consequences
Section - TWO: How to overcome planned obsolescence: from theory to practice
Chapter - 03: Sustainability in Economics and Law: The greening of sciences in the search for a new paradigm
Chapter - 04: The sustainability paradigm as the foundation to tackle planned obsolescence: New perspectives
Chapter - 05: Final considerations
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Kamila Pope is an Environmental Law and Bio-law lecturer, researcher and lawyer. She has published a plethora of articles, chapters and papers covering Environmental Law, Sustainability, Planned Obsolescence and Waste Management. She holds a Master's in Law, Environment and Political Ecology and is studying a PhD in Law, Politics and Society.