Green Solution to the Vinyl Record Backlog

Worldwide demand for vinyl is currently estimated at around 700 million records a year, as a result of a remarkable resurgence in popularity.

Green Vinyl Records' logo

Global demand for albums is at its highest in 30 years and factories can't keep up with demand. Most factories are still using the same pressing methods deployed in the 1980s, but the good news is that a Dutch firm is offering a more sustainable - but more expensive - solution to the backlog.

And it's doing so without the material that gave vinyl its name.

Harm Theunisse, owner of Green Vinyl Records, in Eindhoven, believes it is the "new standard" for the industry. His team has spent the past seven years developing a new large-scale pressing machine that uses about 90 percent less energy than typical vinyl production.

"This machine can do almost 40 percent more capacity than the traditional plants, too," said Theunisse. "The pressing here is both faster and better for our planet."

The machine in Eindhoven avoids using PVC (polyvinyl chloride - which gave vinyl its name) - the most environmentally damaging of plastics, according to Greenpeace. Instead, it uses polyethylene terephthalate (Pet) - a more durable plastic which is easier to recycle.

Theunisse said he wanted to do something to enable future generations to listen to music on vinyl without worrying about the environmental impact. "It's for the kids," he said.

The barrier to finding eco-friendly alternatives to PVC has always been the desire to match the same rich sound quality while maintaining the hardness and durability of plastic, says Sharon George, senior lecturer in sustainability at Keele University. Green Vinyl Records' method is "a real step in the right direction", she says.

"We need to stop thinking about the cost at the till and think about that cost to the planet and to our health," she adds.

In the meantime, Green Vinyl Records is running flat out to try and keep up with demand.



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