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Resource Efficiency

German Federal Environment Agency commissions study on defective electronic equipment


The German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has commissioned a study looking into the premature wear of electronic goods.The study will investigate how decisions by manufacturers and consumer behaviour affect the average life of electrical and electronic equipment, which may wear out prematurely or become defective before the end of its predicted service life. Read more…

Due to the lack of scientifically robust data on the premature wear of consumer goods, the UBA has commissioned the Öko-Institut e.V. in Germany and the University of Bonn to investigate the issues surrounding a product’s natural or artificially-influenced wear. This phenomenon, known as ‘obsolescence’, is particularly prevalent in electrical and electronic equipment such as mobile phones and digital cameras.

The study will examine a number of issues relating to premature wear including psychological and technical factors. These include how long a product should be kept current and fully operational, whether manufacturers intentionally ‘build in’ planned obsolescence such as weak links, and whether, and to what extent, the average service life and likely failure of these devices have changed in recent times.

The project will develop new and improved methods for better testing and measuring of a product’s anticipated lifetime using interviews, case studies and feedback from various stakeholders including electrical repair shops and test institutes. The results will be used to develop recommendations for improving product service life, setting quality standards and providing better consumer information. The project will start in September 2013 and conclude in spring 2015, with an interim report produced in 2014.

Find more info:

Press Release

German Federal Environment Agency website

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