Sonos has a recycle problem and customers aren’t happy

Two months ago, Sonos became the latest large brand to launch a recycling initiative. However, its Trade Up program hasn’t been met with the expected response by recyclers.
Sonos speakers
Sonos is a Californian outfit, which was founded in Santa Barbara in 2002. Photo: Sonos

The speaker specialists stated that owners of certain speakers are eligible for a percent discount on any new product in a bid to inspire people to take part in the program. Although, Gizmodo reports that there is a fault with the process.

What’s the problem?

The issue is that in order to qualify for the program, users have to brick their speakers. This effectively makes them useless so they can’t be resold or refurbished. Refurbishment specialist, Devin Wilson spotted this problem while working at Renew Computers in San Rafael, California.

He shared that a customer brought five normally fine Sonos Play:5 speakers to his shop but they couldn’t be sold on as they were put into Recycle Mode. This is an irreversible 21-day countdown, which blacklists a speaker from Sonos’ server.

While this protects data and makes each speaker safe to recycle, it blocks the software. Therefore, it can add to waste, especially if users are incentivized to buy more products as part of the “recycling” initiative.

Sonos black Speaker
There are seven key products offered by Sonos. These include the ONE, ONE SL and PLAY speakers. There are also the PLAYBAR and BEAM soundbars, the SUB subwoofer, and the PLAYBASE television sound system. Photo: Sonos

Company response

Sonos has responded to these claims by stating that the older products are becoming increasingly outdated. Therefore, it feels that the best option is for them to put in recycle mode.

“The reality is that these older products lack the processing power and memory to support modern Sonos experiences,” Sonos told The Verge, as reported by Gizmodo.

“Over time, technology will progress in ways these products are not able to accommodate. For some owners, these new features aren’t important. Accordingly, they may choose not to participate in the Trade Up program.”

Sonos concluded the program is an affordable path for product owners wanting to upgrade.

“For those that choose to trade-up to new products, we felt that the most responsible action was not to reintroduce them to new customers that may not have the context of them as 10+ year old products, and that also may not be able to deliver the Sonos experience they expected.”

Sonos tech
With smart technology becoming a standard for modern speakers, older models are increasingly becoming outdated. Photo: Sonos

A balanced approach is needed

Altogether, it looks like the program does emphasize more on upgrading rather than being the most efficient way to recycle. Especially since there have been reports that customers are ending up with second-hand Sonos units they are in Recycle Mode.

We understand that smart homes are becoming increasingly popular but there is surely a more effective recycling scheme. Perhaps there needs to be a better balance between company sustainability and environmental sustainability.

Do you think that there needs to be an overhaul in this recycling initiative by Sonos? Share your thoughts on the program with us in the comment section.

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