The government recently introduced legislation to encourage design of repairable products! What is it about business now that requires governments to legislate for intelligent design?
It has been obvious to people like me for many decades now, that there has been an increasing disconnect between product design and the environment. The reasons for this are the culmination of many factors – all of which are individually concerning in their own right. In no particular order, here are some…
1 The reduction in independent brands and thereby consumer choice – resulting in the domination of the big few global companies manufacturing very similar products due to risk averse management and shareholder interests.
2 Decline in apprentice training in favour of higher education whereby the key skills of learning the basics of materials, good design and serviceability by early direct contact, has been lost.
3 Over promotion of the services sector at the expense of science, engineering and manufacturing.
4 Education systems focussed on the teaching and testing of mainly academic subjects at the expense of wider knowledge and skills – resulting in academies full of learners and very few thinkers.
5 Two generations of young people now addicted to computers and not experiencing direct engagement of real materials and products, thereby lacking in dextrous and mental creativity.
6 Governments unable to distinguish between beneficial and non-beneficial economic growth whilst becoming increasingly disconnected or simply uninterested in how and where their salaries are paid.
7 Increasing focus on the expansion and collaboration of government and big business – by government and big business elitism.
8 Over focus on health and safety/risk mitigation by vested legal interests (in and outside government) favouring a ‘sealed for life’ or ‘sealed for short life’ agenda.
9 Short term economic thinking now being mainstream and in-line with short term politics and short-term profits.
10 The inability of international finance and governments to ‘lock in’ environmental and remedial costs of products, fuels and processes thereby missing the opportunity to encourage the development and use of better products, fuels and processes for the future, by ensuring that the polluter ultimately pays at source.
At Water Powered Technologies, environment and ethics has always been a key driver, as well as the longevity and serviceability of our products. We would hope that our present and future customers are able to recognise these values as we continue to develop products that are decades ahead of what any government legislation is likely to produce – although we would also like to take this opportunity to remind those in government that, at present, by not incurring the ‘real’ environmental costs of our competitors producing and using fossil fuels and electricity to power their products, they are effectively being subsidised. In any other scenario, it would be classed as unfair competition. We are therefore pleased that there is some recognition of the problem by government but it would be more meaningful if this could be endorsed via government department procurement policies that are able to directly recognise and promote the benefit of such products.
In the U.K., for example, the government spends around £13 billion per year on overseas aid – of which, in over 20 years, has not resulted in a single purchase of one of our pumps!
By Phil Selwyn, Technical Director of Water Powered Technologies.