READER REPORT:

Can you fix it: Make goods more durable

PAUL SMITH
Last updated 14:30 01/11/2012

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The mere fact that we have to enter into Free Trade Agreements is absolute proof that the playing field is not level. And nor do these Agreements actually advance 'levelness'.

We need a mechanism to help us correct the balance so that New Zealand companies can compete from a position of equality rather than from the massively unbalanced situation that exists now.

Our size means we are a de facto boutique producer on a world scale. Let's capitalise on that and our other attributes, namely green, innovative, adventurous and spirited.

We must rethink sustainable and then factor in durable as a high priority. If something doesn't last a long time, then is is hardly sustainable even if it is made from recycled materials. Let’s change the consumer goods guarantee period from 12 months to 24 months and then to 36 months and beyond.

This could result in several huge benefits: Since durability requires good design, good materials and good workmanship, our manufacturers would start to compete in a quality-based environment.

Our products would establish a global reputation for value and increased exports to discerning customers sick of throwing away junk would likely follow. We would import less junk and the products we did buy would last longer so have a reduced environmental impact with fewer resources consumed.

Over a lifetime our living costs would reduce as the durable effect took hold and we would have more to save and invest - as well as companies of substance to invest in.

Durability is a powerful measure that only comes from knowledge, craftsmanship and commitment. Yet its returns are far greater that the small additional cost. I believe it is a worthy direction to pursue and is the most simple to legislate and does not prejudice any trade agreements.


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