Sonos ditches controversial Recycle Mode that bricked old devices

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Sonos is ditching its controversial Recycle Mode.
Image: Sonos

Sonos is making some positive changes to the controversial Recycle Mode its devices once utilized. Prior to this, consumers who wanted to upgrade their audio equipment could get a 30 percent discount on a new product by putting their old one in Recycle Mode—essentially rendering it inoperable.

Not only did that policy create tons of e-waste, it meant that consumers no longer had a choice over what they did with their old devices. Fortunately, the change means that Recycle Mode is going away forever and consumers can still get a discount on new products when they upgrade.

Cutting Back on E-waste

One of the most troublesome problems facing the world today is e-waste. As old tech products age and are tossed into the landfill they don’t decompose gracefully. Instead, they break down slowly, releasing toxic materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium into the environment.

As such, it’s easy to see why Sonos’ policy of adding new devices into landfills didn’t make sense. Customers who chose to utilize Recycle Mode “bricked” their old devices—even the ones that still worked. After initiating the process, Sonos started a 21-day self-destruction countdown on the device in question and provided consumers with a 30 percent discount on their next purchase in return.

As of last week, Recycle Mode has disappeared from the Sonos app. Instead, users will now have the option to keep their old speaker, give it to a friend, send it to Sonos for recycling or turn it in to their local electronics recycling facility. However, they’ll still get a discount on new products.

For now, consumers need to call Sonos’ customer service department to sign up for the upgrade program. Fortunately, that is just a temporary fix. In the next few weeks, it will be updating its app and website to include a new process for upgrading that doesn’t involve a phone call.

Necessary Change

Although Sonos users have always enjoyed the company’s upgrade policy many also resented it because of the fact that Recycle Mode creates so much e-waste. For many reasons, it only makes sense for the company to get rid of the controversial feature. Sonos probably shouldn’t have implemented it in the first place.

However, the past is now in the past. Sonos’ new policy adds flexibility that will help keep thousands of devices out of landfills.

With Recycle Mode out of the way, sustainability-minded consumers may still want to consider upgrading their legacy devices. Sonos has plans to stop releasing new software updates to those starting in May.

However, the company’s CEO, Patrick Spence, said, “While legacy Sonos products won’t get new software features, we pledge to keep them updated with bug fixes and security patches for as long as possible.”

Consumers who do choose to keep using their old Sonos products will need to fork them off of their primary Sonos system or else none of the speakers will receive updates.

That also appears to be a temporary problem, however, as Sonos recently said, “We are working on a way to split your system so that modern products work together and get the latest features, while legacy products work together and remain in their current state.”

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