Appliances have more limited life

Electronic gadgets and home appliances are breaking down more quickly than ever so should be labelled with a life expectancy, according to a report.

Consumers also cast aside products for the latest models, causing unnecessary environmental damage, the German Federal Environment Agency found. “Many devices have too short a life. From an ecological standpoint, that is not acceptable,” Maria Krautzberger, the president of the agency, said. “Many devices and appliances are replaced even though they are still functional.”

The report calls for European legislators to introduce a minimum shelf life. Consumers often complain that mobile phones do not last for more than a year or two, forcing them to upgrade. However, the study found no evidence to suggest that devices had built-in obsolescence. It said that a third of consumers surveyed were satisfied with their products’ durability.

A study by the University of Bonn in 2013 suggested that modern appliances were breaking down more quickly. Researchers found that the proportion of large household appliances that had to be replaced due to faults within five years of purchase had risen from 3.5 per cent in 2004 to 8.3 per cent in 2013.

Ms Krautzberger said that electronic devices should be easier to repair and that manufacturers should make spare parts more readily available.

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