The alu hats are right. It was not without reason that there was no perpetual light bulb for sale. Time and time again, manufacturers make deliberate design decisions in order to sell as much as possible. Design decisions, which mean more pollution and more resource depletion. Meet planned obsolescence.
What is planned obsolescence?
At some point, products have become obsolete. Sometimes this is due to normal wear and tear that cannot be prevented. Sometimes due to technical obsolescence. Or because they are going out of style. And sometimes, because they are meant to break down much faster than normal. Or decline in functions, because the manufacturer, for example Apple, slyly downscales the performance in smartphones. So that consumers have to buy an expensive, new smartphone. The latter concept is “planned obsolescence” (planned redundancy) called.
Why does planned obsolescence exist?
This is largely due to manufacturers. But also to us, the consumers. Time and again we choose fashion items instead of quality that will last a lifetime. And especially our economic model. We register change as growth. An economy in which nature is rapidly transformed into a mountain of waste has much higher growth figures than one Eldorica-like economy, where, for example, cars last a hundred years and houses a small eternity.
What are the consequences?
For manufacturers there is of course a huge advantage: more sales. But the extra employment generated by planned obsolescence is also doing well in the unemployment figures. And for tax revenues.
However, the price that the earth, and therefore we, pays for this is very high. Much more waste and air pollution from the manufacturing process. A lower quality of life. Depletion of raw materials that are difficult to replace.
An end to planned obsolescence?
No wonder that governments with sustainable objectives are now increasingly trying to intervene. In the 1910s, for example, the French Assembly imposed a fine of 300,000 euros for companies guilty of planned obsolescence. The European Union is now preparing legislation that makes it mandatory to make appliances repairable. So smartphones whose battery can no longer be replaced will then become a thing of the past.
The question is also whether there are smarter ways to produce public goods such as employment and social security than over-consumption with an endless mountain of waste.
And the perpetual light bulb? We now have something that is better in every way. LED lamps are four times more efficient than incandescent lamps and last around 100,000 hours. That's about a lifetime. A hundred times as long as incandescent lamps in the time of planned obsolescence.