As a college student living in a dorm, I can tell you firsthand that getting a restful night of sleep is not easy. From noisy neighbors, to snoring roommates, I have trouble not only falling asleep, but also staying asleep. After looking into solutions for better sleep, I came across BOSE SLEEPBUDS™ II. These wireless earbuds actively block noise while playing soothing sounds to help you get better sleep throughout the night. The earbuds work with the Bose Sleep app, to give consumers more than 50 sounds to fall asleep to. This product sounds great for consumers, but how great is it for the environment? Before buying this product, I decided to do some research on this product’s sustainability. I found that although Bose is making steps in the right direction towards sustainability, much more can be done before we can call Bose and the Sleepbuds sustainable.
Each package of BOSE SLEEPBUDS™ II includes the Sleepbuds, a charging case, 3 sizes of eartips, a USB cable, and a quick start guide. The earbuds are made of plastic, the eartips are made of silicone, and the case is made of aluminum. Although silicone and aluminum are more commonly recycled, as compared to plastic, they can still end up in landfills. Furthermore, producing plastic and silicone requires a great deal of greenhouse gases, which exacerbate environmental issues we are facing, such as climate change. On the Bose website, I cannot find any information regarding whether or not the Sleepbuds are recyclable. Furthermore, I cannot find any information about the packaging that this product comes in. This makes me think that the packaging is most likely not sustainable. Regarding the battery, the battery life is up to 10 hours, the earbud battery charge time is 6 hours, and the charging case battery charge time is 3 hours. Compared to the first generation of Sleepbuds, BOSE SLEEPBUDS™ II has a longer battery life. This means that each consumer uses less energy to charge the Sleepbuds, which improves the sustainability of the product. In addition, Bose participates in the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) Call2Recycle™ program. After the recyclable battery dies, a consumer can bring it to a drop off site or a Bose store located in California. By participating in this program, Bose is helping to keep rechargeable batteries out of the United States’ solid waste stream.
According to Bose, they strive to integrate sustainability across the company, using the 3 pillars of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic. Zooming in on Bose’s manufacturing plant in Tijuana, Mexico, the facility reduced energy use per unit by 11.6% from 2017 to 2020. They did this by optimizing their air conditioning system, through adjusting the settings based on occupancy. Furthermore, they were able to cut down their energy usage by adding smart lighting, upgrading and insulating ovens, and improving compressor performance. In addition, Bose achieved a 95.2% rate of recycling at the Tijuana facility in 2020. They were able to do this by replacing foam cups with reusable cups, and removing personal waste baskets and replacing them with communal recycling stations. Overall, Bose has reduced its energy use at major facilities from 248,850 GJ in 2019 to 221,775 GJ in 2020. Furthermore, Bose has reduced its carbon emissions from 24,103 tons of CO2 in 2019 to 21,692 tons of CO2 in 2020. Bose is also working to redesign their packaging to improve sustainability, which they have done by developing a scorecard that quantifies the impacts of design decisions. However, I cannot find any information whether or not Bose has made the Sleepbud’s packaging more sustainable. In addition, Bose has created a Voluntary Substance Removal process, to remove substances that are of concern to stakeholders. These substances include Polyvinyl Chloride and Halogenated Flame Retardants, which have been removed from the exterior of all new products and their packaging launched after April 1st, 2020. Unfortunately, this does not apply to the BOSE SLEEPBUDS™ II, which were launched in October 2020.
Bose has manufacturing sites all over the world. Since the company is so large, it makes me question whether or not sustainable practices are happening at all of Bose’s manufacturing sites. The company is a member of the Responsible Business Alliance, which is an industry dedicated to corporate social responsibility. In addition, Bose has claimed that they are dedicated to building diversity and inclusion, and have trained their global supply chain representatives to recognize signs of forced labor. Looking at Bose’s website, I believe that their claim is trustworthy. Furthermore, Bose has programs such as Wellbeing@Bose, Appreciate@Bose, and Health & Safety, which help to enhance the work experience and wellbeing of their employees. This raises my impression of Bose, however I wish I could find more information regarding working conditions at the manufacturing plants on the Bose website.
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