Planned obsolescence — that is, the practice of designing products with a purposefully limited lifespan so that they need to be replaced sooner — is one of the more annoying parts of living in a loosely regulated free-market economy. Certain things are intentionally designed to break or become obsolete after a certain amount of time, and as consumers, we often don’t know how long the stuff we buy is supposed to last.
Thankfully, there’s at least one government in the world that aims to change this. This week, France became the first country in the world to pass legislation designed to curb the practice of planned obsolescence.
It’s pretty smart legislation, too. Rather than issuing broad laws mandating that certain products last for X years, the newly issued decree simply requires that manufacturers and vendors be more up-front about product lifespans. Moving forward, all French appliance manufacturers are required to inform vendors how long spare parts for a given product will be produced. Vendors are then required to inform buyers in writing, and failure to do so can result in up to 15,000 euros ($16,800) in fines.
This is just the beginning, too. France plans to enact a similar measure next year that will require manufacturers to replace or repair faulty appliances free of charge for the first two years after they’ve been purchased, basically a mandatory warranty.
It’s doubtful that this kind of legislation will ever be passed in the U.S. anytime soon, but hey, at least it’s happening somewhere!