Sustainable ConsumptionProduct durability of electrical devices decreases ever more

According to a recent study on behalf of the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), most electrical devices such as washing machines, Smartphones and TVs are being used for an ever shorter period of time. In this respect, the report analyzes the consumption behavior, replacement patterns and defect causes of electrical appliances for the four categories of large and small domestic appliances, information and communication technology as well as entertainment electronics. The results can be summarized as follows:

  • Reasons for a reduced product durability and an early new purchase of electrical devices are diverse. Especially in the segment of entertainment electronics and information technology, innovation and the wish for a new device are the main driving forces for new purchases.
  • According to a consumer survey, about one third of respondents said to be discontent with the lifetimes of their products.
  • The share of large domestic appliances, such as refrigerators, that were replaced within the first five years due to a defect, increased from 3,5 percent in 2004 to 8,3 percent in 2013.

Based on these insights on the phenomena and trends of obsolescence pragmatic strategies against the premature wear of electronic devices are set to be derived. Maria Krautzberger, president of UBA, noted in this regard: “Many devices have a short lifecycle. From an ecological point of view this is not acceptable. The production process consumes valuable resources; pollutants and emissions harm the environment and the climate. We have to consider minimum standards for product life and quality – sort of a minimum durability for electrical and electronic devices. (…). A label displaying the expected product durability in hours of use would be to the benefit of consumers and the environment.”

Source: Umweltbundesamt

More information and the report