At a time when the climate crisis threatens the future of the planet, it’s vital companies and organizations of all sizes think holistically and critically about how their actions impact the world.
According to a 2018 Nielsen study, 81% of global respondents felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment, with 79% of Gen Xers and 85% of Millennials indicating that it was “extremely” or “very important” for companies to act. As customer choice becomes more heavily rooted in social responsibility, professional installers will need to consider a brand’s values when determining their client’s overall needs.
Sonos recently introduced its first Climate Action Plan as the foundation of its commitment to a more sustainable future. Details of the plan were released as part of Sonos’ 2021 Listen Better Report, offering an annual overview of the company’s Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) efforts. With ambitious goals in mind, Sonos is committed to drive its value chain to carbon neutrality by 2030 and to net zero by 2040. The report also outlines a new approach to product sustainability, with an immediate goal of improving energy efficiency – which is critical given that more than three quarters of Sonos’ carbon emissions can be attributed to the energy consumed during each product’s lifecycle.
“With our Climate Action Plan, we’re entering a new phase in our commitment to environmental responsibility, stepping up our efforts across the board to reduce our impact,” said Patrick Spence, Sonos CEO. “Sonos is a company founded on innovation; we are invigorated by the challenge to innovate and create better solutions for our customers and for the planet.”
Taking Action on the Climate Crisis
The first step in Sonos’ Climate Action Plan is to identify their impact on the environment. Sonos partnered with VitalMetrics to map the carbon footprint of the company’s value chain – from sourcing materials and packaging, to product use and end-of-life.
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With a primary focus on product and operational carbon reductions, supported by high-quality, verified offsets, Sonos is committed to meeting its goals through natural strategies including habitat regeneration and conservation. Their first partner in helping to offset their emissions is SeaTrees by Sustainable Surf, focusing on a marine ecosystem project in the Southern Cardamom Watershed in Cambodia.
“To make the changes necessary to protect our environment in the coming decades, all corporations must first understand the full impact they have on the environment. This is challenging, expansive work, and we are pleased to see Sonos stepping up,” said Sangwon Suh, chief scientist at VitalMetrics. “I hope more companies follow their lead to develop ambitious climate targets based on science and take real actions to accomplish them.”
Transforming Product Design and Performance
Sonos has long believed a premium listening experience can be consistent with environmental consciousness. In addition to its Climate Action Plan, Sonos introduced its Product Sustainability Program designed to drive down the carbon footprint and overall environmental impact of its products.
“We want to help our customers make responsible choices, so we’ll be able to present them with more options about energy use, like shutting down parts of their system while other parts are active, or being more intentional with speakers using voice assistants.” said Deji Olukotun, Sonos Director of Policy and Corporate Social Responsibility.
The company unveiled a series of short- and long-term targets across energy efficiency, materials, product longevity and packaging, and this year, will conduct its first product environmental life cycle assessment.
- Energy Efficiency: Product energy use is the most significant contributor to Sonos’ carbon footprint. The company is committed to improving the energy efficiency of its product portfolio, with a focus on idle and sleep states. Sonos introduced sleep mode with Roam – helping make it Sonos’ most energy efficient speaker – and by 2023, all new Sonos products will include sleep mode. The company aspires to reduce idle power consumption to less than 2 watts for its entire portfolio, starting with all portable products in 2022.
- Product Longevity: Sonos strives to keep its products in use for a long time and continues to support every speaker it has released. In 2021, the company began a new Design for Disassembly process, which will be incorporated into all new speakers and components, starting in 2023. This approach builds in features – such as fasteners instead of adhesives – that make it easier to repair, refurbish and recycle.
- Materials: Electronic waste (e-waste) is one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world. Sonos is working towards a circular future where its products can be recycled to make new Sonos products. By the end of 2023, 100% of new Sonos products will begin using post-consumer recycled plastic in place of virgin plastics, and will also be 100% halogen free.
- Packaging: A comprehensive approach to product circularity must include packaging. And to Sonos, premium packaging also means responsible packaging. This year, Sonos undertook a major packaging design update using FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, proprietary Sonos Custom Kraft paper. This paper was first used for Roam, and will continue to be used for future products. By 2025, Sonos packaging will be made with 100% responsibly sourced paper, including paper that is either PCR (post-consumer recycled), FSC-certified or made from plant-based fibers as Sonos continues to reduce plastics from their packaging entirely.
Transforming Supply Chain & Distribution
Sonos will spend the next year formalizing its environmental goals and refining the company’s approach to the supply chain and distribution focus areas of its Climate Action Plan. This includes working with major suppliers to improve their respective climate footprints, and exploring the localization of repairs and refurbishment where possible.
“This is a collective action opportunity—particularly for climate change, but also in terms of broader sustainability—in that the more companies that get involved, the easier it becomes,” said Deji Olukotun. “At Sonos I think we can be proud to recognize that people really care, that there’s been a big cultural shift, and that we’re all committed to this journey.”