Extended Producer Responsibility
As consumers we are stuck in a quandary - technology outdates itself immediately, so even if a product still works, there's a newer, faster, better thing that was just released. Or companies make things with a short usable lifespan, forcing you to purchase new items repeatedly. So in our current affluent western society, the choice to buy isn't really a choice at all, it is a given. In our disposable, consumer oriented culture the assumption is you will buy and you will throw away.
I've blogged about this consumer burden before, and how I believe that the responsibility for a product's afterlife should shift to the producer. Companies should design with the product life-cycle in mind (Cradle to Cradle of course), however until that practice happens on a mentionable scale, more companies should institute additional take back programs.
Steve Attinger has a column on GreenBiz.com that talks about Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). He highlights a few manufacturers that do take back their older/broken products (and competitor's products) once the consumer is ready to purchase a new one. He also makes the business case for EPR, one result is building customer loyalty, another is streamlining the production process, which often saves the company money. EPR just seems to make business sense, and until everyone is doing it will give added value to the consumer and a leg up on the competition.