A British firm says it has created the world’s first bioplastic vinyl record, which it hopes will reduce the need for highly toxic PVC.
Bioplastics are derived from sources such as sugars and starches rather than oil or gas – and do not create any toxic waste in their production.
The new bioplastic vinyl by UK firm Evolution Music has been endorsed by the NGO Music Declares Emergency, a climate change campaign group founded in 2019 by artists and music industry professionals.
“If Evolution can provide an alternative guilt-free vinyl, it could completely get rid of one of the major polluting elements of the music industry,” Louis Jamieson, co-founder of the NGO, told Agence France-Presse.
Currently, all vinyl records are made from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC—described by Greenpeace as “the most environmentally harmful plastic,” whose production releases toxic, chlorine-based chemicals that cause “water , are building up in the air and food chain.”
The issue has arisen due to the recent boom in sales of vinyl—which surpassed $1 billion in the United States alone last year (the first time since the mid-1980s).
There was some anticipation of the vinyl revival starting in the mid-2000s, so record companies found themselves scrambling to secure PVC – often relying on foreign firms with poor safety records.
Kyle Devine, who wrote a book on the environmental impact of the music industry, “Decomposed,” said that in 2015 the PVC for 90 percent of American vinyl came from a Thai company that was “polluting the Bangkok River”.
“PVC is a particularly nasty plastic to make. It’s difficult to dispose, recycle or dismantle,” he told AFP, adding that it would be wrong to see the current dominance of streaming and digital music as the industry’s answer. climate effect.
“Digital data still takes up space and uses energy. In fact, given the current size and spread of the music industry, it is likely to be more environmentally-taxing than ever,” Devine said.
Evolution released the first 20 records made with Bioplastic through a prize draw – a compilation of young artists including electro duo Bicep and American singer Angel Olsen.
The delays caused by this have resulted in a trial run of nearly five years.But the firm says they are close to matching the regular record.
“It presses in the same way as PVC,” said co-founder Mark Carey. “The final piece of the puzzle is that there’s a little noise on the surface when you play the record, so we’re working on that. We think we’re two weeks away from finalizing the recipe.”
declares music emergency clear that changing the production of vinyl records will do nothing for the big pictureBut Jamieson said such innovations were symbolically important.
“It reminds people that thinking about sustainability doesn’t mean you have to live in a mud hut and that’s no fun,” he said.