Sonos working to make future products more efficient and repairable

The effort is part of a larger plan to reduce the company's e-waste and pollution

Speaker company Sonos announced plans to make its speakers last longer and use less energy. The plans come as part of the company’s larger effort to make itself more sustainable by minimizing e-waste and pollution that drives climate change.

According to The Verge, improving the repairability of products is a significant part of Sonos’ plans. The company started a ‘Design for Disassembly’ program this year to help guide the development of new speakers in 2023.  The program will include changes like using fasteners instead of adhesives, which will make it easier for consumers to take Sonos products apart and repair them.

Unfortunately, Sonos hasn’t revealed much more about the program yet. So far, it’s unclear if Sonos plans to make replacements parts and repair manuals available to customers.

Still, Sonos’ director of policy and corporate social responsibility confirmed to The Verge that the program will “make it easier to repair, refurbish and, eventually, recycle future Sonos products.”

Sonos will start using recycled plastics in its products

Aside from improving repairability, Sonos plans to start using post-consumer recycled plastic in all its products by the end of 2023. Although using recycled plastics can help prevent some plastics from ending up in landfills, oceans or animals, The Verge points out that recycling has so far not been a great solution for dealing with the worsening plastic pollution problem. Worse, because plastic degrades each time it’s reused, many companies mix in new plastics with recycled plastics. As demand for recycled plastics grows, it could lead to greater demand for new plastics too.

Another goal Sonos has is to include ‘sleep mode’ on all its products by 2023. Sleep mode can reduce power consumption when a device is idle — Sonos first added it to its Roam speaker this year. The company aims for its products to use less than 2 watts while idle.

Interestingly, Sonos says that about 75 percent of its carbon footprint comes from the energy its products use over their lifetime. That differs significantly from other consumer electronics, which see up to 80 percent of CO2 emissions come from manufacturing, according to a Greenpeace report. Factoring in both Sonos’ supply chain and consumers’ energy use, Sonos says it was responsible for CO2 emissions equivalent to 267,528 cars driven over a year.

Relying on carbon offsets to cancel its legacy pollution

Finally, Sonos wants to cut emissions from its products’ energy use by 45 percent by 2040, as well as cancel its entire footprint by that date through a mixture of carbon offsets and tech that removes CO2 from the atmosphere. Again, however, carbon offsets aren’t exactly a reliable solution — this ProPublica report details some of the rampant problems with relying on carbon offsets. Further, technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere have not yet scaled up to meet the needs of companies promising to use the tech to erase their legacies of pollution.

All that said, it is good to see Sonos at least make the effort. The company should prioritize reducing its environmental footprint since that will likely have a more immediate impact than relying on carbon offsets to take care of past pollution. Hopefully, Sonos will lead the way in the smart speaker space and drive more companies to adopt environmental policies like sleep modes and other things that reduce carbon footprints.

Source: The Verge