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Sonos’ Trade-Up Program bricks and junks old devices instead of reselling them

Sonos’ Trade-Up Program, which offers customers a 30% discount in exchange for recycling older Sonos products, is reportedly environmentally unfriendly.

Under the program, Sonos device users have to place the products in “recycle mode” by sending in the serial numbers, and after 21 days, all personal data and settings will be erased. The device will be effectively bricked, ready to be sent to local recycling centers or back to Sonos, and the customer will then receive a 30% discount on their account, to be used on their next purchase of a Sonos product.

The Trade-Up Program looks like a well-meaning initiative on paper. However, according to Twitter user @atomicthumbs, who works at an e-waste recycler, Sonos is “throwing any claimed environmental friendliness in the trash in order to sell more speakers.”

One example provided in the lengthy Twitter thread is five Sonos Play:5 speakers, which were worth $250 each in used but good condition. However, because the previous owner placed the devices in recycle mode, the devices are rendered useless and will have to be recycled instead of re-used.

This is the the most environmentally unfriendly abuse and waste of perfectly hardware I've seen in five years working at a recycler.

We could have sold these, and ensured they were reused, as we do with all the working electronics we're able. Now we have to scrap them.

— ralph waldo cybersyn (@atomicthumbs) December 27, 2019

The unnamed Twitter user called out Sonos as the company’s Trade-Up Program is harming the environment, against its tagline that “sustainability is non-negotiable.” He added that this is the only time he has seen a company brick its own products to encourage recycling.

Some Sonos customers have also taken to the company’s official support forums as they have accidentally placed their devices in recycling mode. Apparently, this is non-reversible, which forces them to buy new devices after 21 days.

Some social media person at Sonos has a non-response to the fact that their "recycle mode" Trade Up program is environmentally unfriendly and harms e-waste recyclers: https://t.co/1A9kxbWQOW

— ralph waldo cybersyn (@atomicthumbs) December 28, 2019

Sonos currently has not issued an official reply to the matter outside of the generic answers provided by its support representatives. It remains unclear if the company will make changes to the Trade-Up Program amid the allegations, such as only requiring users to erase their personal data before sending their devices to recyclers instead of bricking them.

Sonos recently announced that it will be increasing the prices of the Sonos Amp and Sonos Port in the United States by $50. The company told Digital Trends that the price increases are due to new investments in its overseas production facilities. However, the prices of Sonos products in all other markets, including, Canada, will not be affected.

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