After Controversy, Sonos Scraps Recycle Mode that Bricks Old Speakers

Sonos Recycle Mode
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Sonos Recycle Mode
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Photo Credit: Unsplash

Sonos is doing away with the company’s controversial Recycle Mode for its trade-up program.

Recycle Mode on devices is a setting that could be activated by customers. Once activated, the speaker could not be taken out of the mode. After 30 days, the speaker becomes inoperable. Sonos offered its customers a 30% discount in exchange for creating garbage.

While named Recycle Mode, all the feature did was brick old Sonos devices.

Sonos is now backing away from its Recycle Mode but will still offer the trade-up program. Customers who own eligible legacy products can get a 30% discount without destroying their speakers. The change means device owners can keep it, give it someone, or actually recycle it.

Recycle Mode was quietly removed from the Sonos app last week. The language that replaced the feature said anyone seeking a discount should call customer service. Sonos will update its website with the new flow for the trade-up program – which won’t require a customer service call.

Last year an e-waste recycling worker brought attention to Sonos’ recycling practices. The bricked speakers are sent to landfills so that Sonos can sell you a new speaker at a discount.

Sonos financial results reveal that 92% of Sonos speakers are still in use and working perfectly fine. It’s mighty hard to sell new speakers to old customers – so the Sonos trade-up program was born. Despite the name, recycle mode is intended to get customers to give up those working, but old speakers.

Sonos says those older speakers will no longer work with its app in a future update. The company says its legacy hardware won’t get new software features going forward, either. Legacy hardware includes the Sonos Play:5, Zone Players, and Connect devices manufactured between 2011 and 2015.

While these speakers will continue to play music, they will prevent newer hardware from updating. Sonos says that’s to keep legacy devices working with more modern equipment.