Trashing your old electronics is bad for the planet—a big reason why you might’ve noticed tech companies push sustainability programs in recent years. Sonos recently joined the recycle brigade in October, launching its Trade Up hardware upgrade program that gives users discounts if they “responsibly recycle older products.” It’s a good idea in theory. The problem is that to take part, users have to brick their speakers, rendering them useless for resale or refurbishment.
This is just stupid.
In reality, they’re not offering a discount for people who recycle products; they’re just offering a discount so people can get newer products, and so they can sell more. It’s a loyalty discount.
Earlier this year, I bought a new pair of speakers, and the manufacturer, KEF, had a promotion: you could trade in any old speakers to get a 20% discount. I had an old pair of speakers, worth much less than the 20% I could save. I bought them from a fairly large audio-video chain here in the UK, over the phone, and asked about how I send them my old speakers. The person told me they didn’t care; I could keep them. It was just a discount, nothing more. If I had brought them into one of their stores they would take them and recycle them, but I had the feeling that it was more of a bother to them than anything else.
If manufacturers want to discount their stuff, they should stop this pretend recycling, unless they can do it right. (Such as Apple does, for example.)