This article discusses how and when product lifetime optimization of consumer goods can be a challenging strategy towards more sustainable consumption. First, the environmental desirability of longer lasting products is discussed. This leads to the introduction of the ecological payback period, a simple rule of thumb to determine when product lifetime extension is environmentally sound. The effectiveness of extending the product lifetime depends, however, on the replacement motives of consumers. Based on qualitative and quantitative consumer research, a typology of four general replacement motives is presented: wear and tear, improved utility, improved expression and new desires.

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Journal of Cleaner Production
Department of Public Administration

van Nes, N., & Cramer, J. (2006). Product lifetime optimization: a challenging strategy towards more sustainable consumption patterns. Journal of Cleaner Production, 14(15-16), 1307–1318. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2005.04.006