Sonos contributing to electronic waste


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Sonos have recently started a trade in promotion in the UK with partnered retailers where you can trade in a Connect or Connect:AMP and receive a 'specified' discount off of a new Sonos AMP.

 

They then modified the trade in promotion to be where you can trade in any Connect, Connect: AMP or (old gen) Play:5 for 30% any new Sonos product.

 

I get that they are trying to sell more +/ new products but then contributing a massive amount to electrical waste. In their T&C's that they send to retailers they give a £15 credit (recycling fee) for the disposal of the old product. The old product is to strictly not be used or re-registered again or the retailer will be punished or loose their partnership.

 

 

I think it's disgusting that Sonos are playing a huge role in generating unnecessary waste. All these units are perfectly fine and working but are to be disposed of for no reason other than that Sonos want to make money. Yes Sonos are giving a £15 credit for recycling but retailers won't and aren't recycling, they'll throw away in general waste and make an extra £15 profit. Sonos are doing nothing to track correct (recycling) disposal of old devices and nothing to make sure retailers are being responsible.

 

Sonos really should have thought about this trade in more. I will now be extremely hesitant to purchase any further Sonos products in the future.


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114 replies

The sound and performance of the Connect is incredible, that hasn’t changed. The fact that the older devices can’t support the modern Sonos experience doesn’t change their sound or performance from being incredible. 

Since except in the wonderful world of marketing there really can't be anything audibly better than “incredible”, thank you Ryan for a realistic Sonos assessment of the sound quality of Port v Connect, notwithstanding the fact that the Port has perhaps a DAC of newer design with better measured specs.

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Buying used is more risky as folks are now selling traded gear as fully functional. You might be able to get a refund but the scammers are likely to try to avoid that. There were folks selling broken gear before so it is just additional risk, not something new.

Buying used is more risky as folks are now selling traded gear as fully functional. You might be able to get a refund but the scammers are likely to try to avoid that. There were folks selling broken gear before so it is just additional risk, not something new.

Got it, thanks. I had not thought of that first part, not devious enough to have realised it:-).

Buying used is more risky as folks are now selling traded gear as fully functional. You might be able to get a refund but the scammers are likely to try to avoid that. There were folks selling broken gear before so it is just additional risk, not something new.

Got it, thanks. I had not thought of that first part, not devious enough to have realised it:-).

I guess there is also a risk for sellers as somebody could buy a used unit from you and add it to their system then put it into recycle to get a voucher and then demand a refund claiming it was already in recycle when you sent it. Maybe Sonos would help resolve this by verifying who actually got the recycle credit but I don’t know how much they want to get involved in used equipment sales.

@upstatemike : Lol. That is the next level of deviousness. There is this thing called the law of unintended consequences that may come into play here, with this program, though there is no knowing how large an effect it will have on the used market.

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 since buying used now is way more risky than it was before the Recycle program. 

Why?

Simply because one now runs the risk of buying a device that was disabled as part of the upgrade programme. It’s an additional factor that wasn’t there previously.

@pwt: right, Stanley explained it a little earlier today.

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A seller that gets ripped off by a buyer recycling and returning a device for credit has an option of working with Sonos BUT everything I have seen is that Sonos requires a copy of a formal police report before they will act.

One more reason I’m glad I recycled rather than trying to sell my old gear. That is of course on top of the more than I paid for it new rebate credit. :-)

Does anyone know what exactly these recyclers do other than making for one large landfill instead of many small ones? After all, this isn't like recycling plastic bags or aluminium cans that can be brought back to some intermediate stage to be then again turned into a useable product.

Given the above, if the buying of Sonos gear in the used market has now become riskier as explained by Stanley and Mike above, then it can be said that Sonos is contributing to electronic waste via this program, by facilitating a reduction in the usable life of its products. How much that contribution is in absolute terms no one can say; it may be insignificant - or not so.

In the big picture of how much energy/resources are consumed for products that are directly trashed before consumption like food, or via not using them for their available service life like what happens with so many consumer durables, this can’t be significant for sure, but it may not be good messaging in the present environment.

I’ve heard of several companies that will take electronics and pull them apart, and recycle piecemeal both the metals and the plastic casings. Apple is one company that certainly does this with their metals, if memory serves, they boast of a fairly high recovery rate on electronics from their phones. I’ve read of other startups and ongoing concerns that provide this service as well, in many tech blogs, news programs in the Silicon Valley area, and in other new sources. 

I suppose it all depends on where you recycle your product, and even if you choose to. I don’t see Sonos as any different than Dell, IBM, Samsung, LG, Apple, or any other electronics company that brings out “newer, faster, better” equipment, other than Sonos ha at least made the attempt to raise awareness by garnering a commitment to responsibly recycle the product, something I’ve not seen from many companies. 
 

And the fact that all of this is purely voluntary, and only if you choose to take advantage of the 30% discount and upgrade your device…It is entirely up to each individual to decide whether they want to do this or nit. There’s no forcing of the process, you choose to take advantage, or you don’t. You have the option of boxing up your product and sending it to Sonos, or finding a local recycler to give it to. There’s just options. You can make the choice as to whether you want to avail yourself if any of these choices, or not. 

You can make the choice as to whether you want to avail yourself if any of these choices, or not. 

One does need to assess though if the choices are presented in a way that things are not as “free” as they appear to be - in general we know that capable marketing is able to make a mockery of free will in very large majority of cases. In this case, does Sonos say anywhere that if you do not choose to recycle while there is usable life in the kit, you can also do so later when there isn't this life because of a Sonos software upgrade? Is this a legal requirement - no. Is doing so being a good corporate citizen? Many would say yes. Of course the cynics would question including the word “good” in the same sentence as the word “corporate”.

Then there is the perhaps unintended consequence on the downward effect this may have on the market for used gear, if the fear of getting a recycled product weighs on buyers. Or even, as someone suggested, being accused of selling a recycled product may take a seller to the recycling route.

I did say that there is no knowing how much is the absolute effect of this in increasing waste, and that in the bigger picture, this is vanishingly small regardless of what the size of that effect may be even in the worst case.

But messaging is important, and I feel that Sonos could have done a better job of this than they have.

 they boast of a fairly high recovery rate on electronics from their phones.

This would be an interesting subject to pursue outside of this thread, starting with the question of how the recovery rate is computed - by value or by volume/weight.

In India, since we are a poor country, there is a significant business of recycling electronics that involves refurbishing to sell in markets that need lower price points for the goods. But that can't continue beyond a cycle or two of such use - I have no idea how the product is dealt with at true end of life. Seeing how many old abandoned cars I see on city streets, I shudder to even think of that subject.

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Abandoned cars are a gold mine of valuable stuff, they sell for very nice prices here in the US. There are a host of organizations begging for you to donate your old car to be scrapped out. Some bits that have a high resale value are pulled but for the most part they are melted down.

Our local recycle option for electronics and hazardous waste works pretty hard to recover metals and other valuable bits like rare earths. They use the recycle profits to offset the hazardous disposal costs.

. Some bits that have a high resale value are pulled but for the most part they are melted down.

 

We don't have the kind of car compression yards of the kind made famous in the Breaking Bad episode of getting rid of the RV - as far as I know. Cars do get passed through a few owners, and this scene of seeing abandoned ones in cities is new, but is growing.