This could also be due to significant changes in efficiency. A refrigerator/appliance manufactured two decades ago would use more energy than a similar appliance manufactured a decade ago...and similar to those manufactured a decade ago to today.
I wonder if manufacturers see change in community attitude to energy efficiency and in response have made their products, while being more efficient, a potentially lower life. The change could be a significant portion of consumers replace appliances before end of life to obtain a more efficient product.
The other hypothesis is maybe designing for energy efficiency pushes the limits of design, and life is compromised as a result.
The other shoe is in a high consumption society, there are many that want to keep up with the Jones's (apologies if you are a Jones). The younger generations and more affluent amongst us seem to believe that new shows some sort of status or success. All it goes is create waste that is becoming more and more difficult to handle.