Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Planned Obsolescence Legislation – An Easy Win For The Degrowth Movement

Banning planned obsolescence would be a major step forward in the fight for a more sustainable future. Indeed it is one of the low-hanging fruits that degrowth advocates can achieve, as consumer groups have been pushing this for years.

The rise of repair shops like the Men's Shed at Waikanae Beach.

Additional arguments against planned obsolescence:

  • Planned obsolescence contributes to the throwaway culture that is a major driver of environmental degradation.
  • It creates jobs that are not sustainable in the long term, as they rely on a constant stream of new consumers.
  • It leads to a loss of skills and knowledge about how to repair and maintain products. In turn, this can make it difficult for people to live without consuming new products.

Planned Obsolescence: A Global Problem

Planned obsolescence is a major problem for consumers and the environment. It forces consumers to replace products more often, which creates unnecessary waste and pollution.

In recent years, there have been growing efforts to legislate against planned obsolescence. In 2015, France became the first country to ban planned obsolescence. The French law requires manufacturers to provide clear information about the lifespan of their products and to make spare parts available for a minimum of 10 years.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Other countries are also taking action against planned obsolescence. In 2020, the European Union adopted a directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The directive requires manufacturers to design products that are more durable and easier to repair.

The United States has not yet enacted any federal laws against planned obsolescence. However, there have been several successful class-action lawsuits against companies that have been accused of engaging in planned obsolescence.

The fight against planned obsolescence is an important one. It is a way to protect consumers, businesses, and the environment. By legislating against planned obsolescence, we can create a more sustainable world where products are designed to last.

Legislation against planned obsolescence has arrived

Here are some of the countries that have taken steps to legislate against planned obsolescence:

  • France (2015)
  • Norway (2018)
  • Netherlands (2019)
  • Italy (2020)
  • European Union (2020)

These countries have enacted laws requiring manufacturers to provide information about their products' lifespan, make spare parts available, and design products that are more durable and easier to repair.

These efforts are a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to address the problem of planned obsolescence. We need to continue to raise awareness about this issue and push for stronger legislation in other countries.

By working together, we can create a world where products are designed to last and where consumers are not forced to replace their products more often than necessary.

Unfortunately, New Zealand is behind. The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) provides protection if problems arise with the product or service purchased. The CGA allows consumers to seek repairs, replacements or refunds when goods are faulty.

However, if a product fault isn’t substantial and can be fixed, it is the supplier’s choice whether to repair, replace, or refund an item.

One News took up the issue in May 2023, noting that WasteMINZ was pushing for legislation.

Prosecutions under the planned obsolescence laws

There have been a few prosecutions for planned obsolescence in recent years.

  • In 2017, a French authority fined Epson around 1 million euros for using software updates that allegedly caused certain printers to stop functioning if third-party ink cartridges were used. The authority claimed this was a form of planned obsolescence, as users were forced to buy more expensive Epson-branded cartridges.
  • In 2019, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Apple alleging that the company had engaged in planned obsolescence by intentionally slowing down older iPhones with software updates. The case was settled in 2020 for $500 million.
  • In 2020 Apple was fined US$27 million in France for slowing down phones.
  • In 2021, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Tesla alleging that the company had engaged in planned obsolescence by intentionally reducing the charging speed and driving range of older Model S and X vehicles with software updates. The case was settled in 2022 for $1.5 million.

In all of these cases, the companies involved denied intentionally designing their products to fail prematurely. However, the settlements suggest that the companies may have been aware that their products were not as durable as they could have been.


Prosecutions for planned obsolescence are still relatively rare. This is because it can be difficult to prove that a company intentionally designed its products to fail prematurely. However, the increasing number of successful class-action lawsuits suggests that the legal landscape is changing.

As consumers become more aware of the problem of planned obsolescence, they are more likely to take legal action against companies that they believe are engaging in this practice.

The degrowth movement argues that a ban on planned obsolescence would help to reduce resource consumption, pollution, and inequality. It would also help to create more sustainable jobs and promote a more equitable distribution of wealth.

Deirdre Kent

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Government's Assault On Maori

This isn’t news, but the National-led coalition is mounting a sustained assault on Treaty rights and obligations. Audrey Young in the NZ Herald has compiled a useful list of the many ways Christopher Luxon plans to roll back the progress made in race relations over the past forty years. He has described yesterday’s nationwide protests by Maori as “pretty unfair.” Poor thing. More

Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More

Green Party: Petition To Save Oil & Gas Ban

“The new Government’s plan to expand oil and gas exploration is as dangerous as it is unscientific. Whatever you think about the new government, there is simply no mandate to trash the climate. We need to come together to stop them,” says James Shaw. More

PSA: MFAT Must Reverse Decision To Remove Te Reo

MFAT's decision to remove te reo from correspondence before new Ministers are sworn in risks undermining the important progress the public sector has made in honouring te Tiriti. "We are very disappointed in what is a backward decision - it simply seems to be a Ministry bowing to the racist rhetoric we heard on the election campaign trail," says Marcia Puru. More




InfoPages News Channels


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.