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Policy Instruments on Product Lifetime Extension

  • Published on January 14, 2022

This project led by UNEP in collaboration with Akatu Institute brings relevant policies that countries have in place, or aspire to, for addressing product lifetime extension. This mapping focuses exclusively on policies and regulatory measures that aim to extend product lifetimes by designing more durable products, by extending their desirability or their use through maintenance, upgrades, and repurpose, and by recovering broken products through repair, refurbishment, or remanufacturing. It was developed under the umbrella of the Product Lifetime Extension Working Group of the One Planet Consumer Information Programme (CI-SCP).

Product lifetime extension (PLE) is the postponement or reversal of the obsolescence of a product through deliberate intervention. This can be done by designing more durable products so that consumers can use them for a longer time, by extending their use through maintenance and upgrades, and by recovering broken products through repair. In addition to creating burden to consumers, short product life worsens environmental issues since massive production generates large quantities of waste, which are most of the time simply dumped (Rivera & Lallmahomed, 2016). Short product life also contributes to the increase of greenhouse gas emissions, concentrated in the production phase for some products such as electronic devices, and poses a huge pressure on scarce natural resources, with high extraction pollution impacts. Policies and regulations have a key role to play in addressing PLE by stimulating the transition of businesses and consumers towards a circular economy, where the value embedded in products is maintained for as long as possible. 

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