2 videos about this subject
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW_7i6T_H78 Story of Electronics (short story)
http://vimeo.com/17750184 Pyramids of Waste (long story)
This is, from my perceptive, a symptomatic problem and not a root problem (like a runny nose when you are infected with a flu)
I also don't see this as a problem designers can work around, unless they instead work on changing the root of the problem. (attack the disease, not it's symptoms)
Products are designed for our needs. (Consumer's needs + Producer's needs)
Consumer's seek needs/wants for the least cost, producer's seek to maximize profit.
Therefore, what we see becomes natural, people buy the cheapest available for their needs/wants, and so companies provide those products. But in order to maximize profit you have to cut costs, and that can be done so by externalizing costs. So what is ultimately provided is a product with as much of it's cost externalized, which bears consequences as we all know. That is why charitable/green/social responsible products are becoming trendy, they remove some of the guilt conscientious buyers have when purchasing it.
Now, can our current economic system run efficiently in a market based on charitable/green/social responsible products?
I don't think so, since nothing physically produced can ever maintain an operational lifespan longer than what can
be endured in order to maintain economic integrity through cyclical consumption.
I kind off already went through all this in this topic http://boards.core77.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=20770
And here is a great lecture on the "disease" part of society i was talking about