Sonos plans to improve its mixed environmental track record

Eco-friendly products are key to this strategy.

Nathan Ingraham/Engadget

Sonos is the latest tech company to commit to reducing its environmental impact in the long term. The smart speaker firm has unveiled an inaugural climate plan that will make its "value chain" carbon neutral by 2030, and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. The company will use some carbon offsets (such as a marine ecosystem project in Cambodia), but it also promises to improve both its products and operations.

Many of the product efforts focus on smarter material choices and recycling. All of Sonos' new products will use recycled plastic by the end of the company's fiscal 2023, while all hardware will use "responsibly sourced" paper packaging by fiscal 2025. Fiscal 2023 will also mark the release of Sonos' first devices designed explicitly with recycling and reuse in mind, such as easier-to-remove fasteners in place of glue. All products will have a sleep mode by that year, and the firm will cut idle power draw to 2W starting with portable speakers in fiscal 2022.

The move might not satisfy everyone. Neutrality in 2030 isn't an aggressive target when it includes offsets — Sonos will still produce excess CO2 emissions. The company may also face a significant challenge overcoming its mixed environmental record. While Sonos is known to support its speakers for a long time, its bifurcated support strategy (where older devices can't operate alongside newer ones) and now-dead recycle mode (which bricked haven't instilled confidence in the past.

Still, this plan could go a long way toward improving Sonos' reputation. It's not only acknowledging its overall environmental impact, it's designing with longevity and repairability in mind. If things go smoothly, you might keep using Sonos gear well after its original luster has worn off.

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