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How can we make the vinyl record manufacturing process more environmentally friendly?

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

Vinyl records, whether you consider them to be music carriers or fine art, are definitely the second most desired item in the music genre by music fans. However, if we want to be "environmentalists", the production process of vinyl is actually very unfriendly, and there are even extreme environmentalists who want to ban the production and use of vinyl materials forever, but of course we don't have to be so extreme (it's another kind of hegemony).

Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, occupying a place in the music market and even becoming a kind of boutique: there are all kinds of remastered and reissued vinyl versions of classic albums; most of the new musicians, bands and singers nowadays will release vinyl versions for fans' collections. So whether you are a musician, DJ, music fan, or a pseudo-literate, you will always have a vinyl record in your collection. But in fact, the vinyl records have brought unexpected damage to our living environment from manufacturing to packaging.

To know the vinyl, we must first know its material. The so-called "vinyl" (vinyl), in fact, is PVC -- polyvinyl chloride, that is, the most common plastic, credit cards, home light switch system will have. Vinyl is also the same kind of plastic for the production of records.

PVC comes from refined oil, which can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills. Conventional pressing machines are powered by steam boilers, which require fossil fuels to generate heat and pressure; the water used is treated with anti-corrosive chemicals, creating more waste water.

Last year, vinyl records reached their highest sales volume in 30 years. So while it's good for the music industry that fans are buying physical music again, is it bad for the environment? Not necessarily.

There are some companies overseas that specialize in recycled record paper and cardboard packaging, and while there are few of them at the moment, there are no regulations that require other companies to use the same method for packaging materials.

Some famous artists and bands have tried environmental offset programs - Pink Floyd donated proceeds from their 2001 album "Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd" to help plant four new native forests; Coldplay made a similar move with their 2002 "A Rush of Blood". Coldplay made a similar move by planting mango trees with the proceeds from 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head. But these actions are still logistically and financially out of reach for many indie artists and independent record labels. But it's only through innovative technology - such as seamless record pressing and a growing number of carbon offset projects - that true "eco-glue" is not a dream.

Canadian music producer Jayda G - who is also an environmental toxicologist - has released her debut album "Significant Changes" through the independent record label Ninja Tune. The back of the sleeve indicates that the record is packaged as "carbon neutral" What's so special about that? The proceeds from the album will help reduce CO2 emissions in other parts of the world, so that the emissions from the production of the album will be offset - the money from the sale of the album funds a clean drinking water project in Orissa, India - where people no longer have to disinfect their drinking water with fires. Fires no longer sterilize their drinking water (they emit high levels of carbon dioxide). According to ClimatePartner, the album "Significant Changes" has offset 1,024 kilograms of CO2 to date.

In 2017, Toronto-based startup Viryl Technologies launched one of the first newly designed record press models since the 1980s, called the WarmTone. earlier this year, Viryl introduced a seamless record press, powered by electricity rather than water pressure, that can be retrofitted to any Viryl press. Co-founder Chad Brown says there is no significant performance difference between the company's seamless and steam-powered options. Steam is certainly very suitable and fast for heating record molds, but it's only slightly faster than a seamless record press," Brown says. It's just a little faster than a seamless record press," Brown says. "With steam, it's possible to make a record in 24 to 28 seconds. The seamless type only takes 31 seconds.

Of course, with new technology, the cost is bound to be a little higher, and that cost is bound to be borne by fans and consumers, which then becomes an investment risk. However, some companies are still willing to take this risk.

Interested in exploring how Vinyl Studio makes your record? Speak to us :)

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