Companies must be persuaded sometimes to go against their economic interests
A SINGLE, BARE lightbulb helps illuminate part of the Livermore-Pleasanton fire department on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay area. It does not look out of place, if a little dim. But it is no humdrum piece of electrical equipment. For the Centennial Light, as it is known, has been burning almost continuously since 1901. To proponents of a less resource-intensive, more circular economy, the bulb (pictured) shows that everyday products can be affordable and built to last.
Not everyone has an interest in such longevity, however. In 1924 a cartel of big lightbulb manufacturers, including General Electric, Osram and Philips, agreed to keep lifetimes of their products to 1,000 hours or so, down from an average of 2,500 hours, in order to sell more of them. Many companies still make it difficult, or even illegal, to mend their products. This has provoked push-back from customers demanding a “right to repair”. French prosecutors are investigating whether Apple, which has admitted slowing older iPhones with software upgrades, deliberately intended to shorten the product’s lifetime to make customers replace it—a criminal offence in France. Legal or not, such activities look economically inefficient and environmentally foolish, even though they may make perfect sense for individual companies. The question is how to persuade those firms to go against their apparent self-interest in order to create a more circular economy.
Fuente: THE ECONOMIST