Circular Production vs Planned Obsolescence

Our existing economies depend and assume a linear process for our goods: Take it, make it, and dump it. This attitude has resulted in a world now overflowing with waste sites, the ‘export’ of refuse to third world countries, and a plastic crisis choking our ecosystems[1]. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and everybody benefits from the change.

One of the largest perpetrators in our waste generating society is Planned Obsolescence. This is where manufacturers purposefully design their products to fail after a short time, so the buyer is forced to purchase it again. This creates a cycle of higher short-term profits, but a huge increase in resources used and wasted every year[2].

Implementing a system of circular production requires manufacturers to ensure that all products are designed so they can be disassembled and materials will either be broken down by nature or returned to production. Biological material therefore consists of non-toxic, clean feeds and technical materials are designed to be a resource to be used industrially again. The goal is to throw nothing away and to reduce the need for purchasing new commodities, while production and transportation is best achieved with renewable energy[3].

Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. Existing circular business models have been found to reduce greenhouse gasses by up to 90%, reduce resource extraction by 80% (which in itself was found to reduce overall energy usage by 50%), and reduce waste by a further 80%[4]. On top of that, by producing our products to last longer and be recycled, we lessen the expectations of our culture of consumption, and with it, our burden on our planet.

Cited Sources:


Search terms for your own research: circular production examples, planned obsolescence consequences, right to repair

 Pioneer Materials, Natural Capital Accounting

 Mineral Extraction, Resource Over-Use
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