The rapid progress of technology means that the devices we use to power our daily lives are becoming ever more advanced. While users benefit from smarter, improved gadgets, and companies like Yandex produce new devices and create new applications for them, the “upgrade cycles” for consumer tech raises an important question - what about older hardware that gets left behind, becoming electronic waste? According to the United Nations, the world creates 50 million tonnes of e-waste every year, and just 20% of this is recycled. At Yandex, we appreciate the environmental hazards posed by the globe’s growing e-waste, and as we roll out new devices, we’re taking steps to try and reduce it.
As a technology company that started providing consumer devices over the last few years, we're committed to sustainability initiatives that reduce the amount of e-waste created. In October, on the first day of sales of our Yandex.Station Mini smart speaker, we encouraged people to bring their older speakers to our official store to exchange them for a free Yandex.Station Mini.
For the speakers we received, we’ve partnered with a local recycling company in Russia who will disassemble the devices and recycle their components. Through this process, speakers that were mainly collecting dust in storage will go on to serve new uses. Their plastic will be used in the construction of windows, while the metal from the speakers will be sent to scrap metal recyclers. Copper smelters will receive part of the wires, while refineries will extract precious metals from the metallic elements that can’t be recycled. What can’t be reused or recovered from the speakers will be disposed of responsibly.
In response to our call for older speakers, over two thousand people lined up at our store with a variety of devices. The first thousand who arrived received Yandex.Station Minis, while we gave the rest credit towards the purchase of one of our smart speakers. We awarded our larger smart speakers, Yandex.Stations, to those who exchanged the most extraordinary speakers, such as gramophones, radiograms, and custom built speakers. These unique items will be displayed in the Yandex museum in Moscow, allowing visitors to take a journey through auditory history.
As one of the companies bringing smart speakers to people’s homes, we also want to be a leader in helping people give new life to their older speakers. We want to thank everyone who helped us keep these speakers from piling up in landfills by bringing them to the Yandex Store, as well as our recycling partner for disposing of the speakers in an environmentally friendly manner.
We hope that, through this exchange program, people will continue to consider ways they can ensure their old electronics are recycled or reused. We encourage other users to explore electronic recycling options in their area so that they, too, can help create a more sustainable world.