Has Built-In Obsolescence for Controlled Product Lifespan Influenced Attitudes towards Food Waste?

Tom Page*
*Senior Lecturer, Loughborough Design School, United Kingdom.
Periodicity:March - May'2018


New government targets show an increasing need to reduce waste in the domestic environment.  These efforts however, are often met with resistance from consumers when attempting toincreasevoluntary participation levels and for this reason, understanding behaviours behind why certain individuals may be more inclined to participate, is often the basis of much user waste profiling.

With food waste often the focus of many academic studies, design, product innovation and technology has recently drawn its own attention in the media,creating markets for obsolescent productsand subsequently increasing volumes of electrical waste without well-established facilitation for its disposal.  Many different factors have been shown to shapethe behaviours of consumers when disposing of itemsreaching their end of life and general findings indicate trends surrounding demographics; age, education, and income as indicators of willingness to participate in various recycling schemes.

With large scale production adopted in both the food and design industries, there is often speculation over whether psychological influences such as ‘the social norm’ may influence consumer lifestyle leading to conditioning of ‘increased wastefulness’.

Through analysis of consumer buying and disposal habits and household waste behaviours,this research aims to investigate whether through lifestyles and generation norms, there is suggestion that increased awareness of obsolescence towardselectrical productshas becomea factor in increasing food waste behaviours.  Where many studies exist to analyse behaviours by product group, this research aims to look at the bigger picture in order to identify whether these product group behaviours can be linked by common factors.

Where many studies have previously publicized complications associated with unnatural participant behaviour in ethnographical studies, this paper will assess through a combination of ethnographical research, questionnaires and user interview, whether there is a correlation between behaviours in one product group and those in another.

The study concludes that, although trends show younger people for whom obsolescence of products always has been the norm tended to be more wasteful concerning food, there is not enough separating evidence to determine whether obsolescence of products and their disposal has affected food behaviours or whether these behaviours exhibited are only as an indication of age, lack of knowledge and experience.


Built-in Obsolescence, Product Lifespan.

How to Cite this Article?

Page,T. (2018). Has Built-In Obsolescence for Controlled Product Lifespan Influenced Attitudes towards Food Waste?i-manager’s Journal on Management, 12(4), 1-20.


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