Making things recyclable and making them last longer can have positive environmental impacts, so it is difficult to say which is "better" without considering the specific context and trade-offs involved. However, in general, it is often more environmentally beneficial to prioritize making things last longer over making them recyclable.
Here are some reasons why:
Extended lifespan reduces the need for replacements: When products are designed to last longer, they need to be replaced less frequently. This means fewer resources are used in the production, transportation, and disposal of the products. Additionally, producing and transporting new products creates emissions that contribute to climate change, air pollution, and other environmental problems.
Recycling requires energy and resources: While recycling is important, it is not a perfect solution. Recycling still requires energy and resources to collect, transport, sort, and process the materials. Additionally, not all materials are equally recyclable, and some may require more energy or produce more waste during the recycling process.
Extended lifespan reduces waste: When products last longer, they do not need to be disposed of as frequently, which reduces the amount of waste produced. This is important because many products take a long time to decompose and can harm the environment, such as plastic products.
In the sneaker industry, making sneakers that last longer can have a significant positive environmental impact. The sneaker industry is notorious for its high levels of waste and emissions, and by making products that last longer, we can reduce the need for frequent replacements, which in turn reduces the environmental impact of production, transportation, and disposal.
MIT study on the CO2 emissions per stage of a shoe lifecycle
That being said, both making things recyclable and making them last longer can be important strategies for reducing environmental impact. It is often best to pursue both approaches together. By designing products to last longer, we can reduce the need for replacements, while also making them recyclable, we can ensure that materials can be reused and repurposed once they reach the end of their useful life.
The Fyous environmental strategy