The recycled vinyl: music to our ears

Vinyl sales are on the rise again as the retro disc soars back into popularity. Experiencing their second wind since their invention in 1948, the classic vinyl disk still has the same great sound, retro quality… and virgin-plastic composition. 

And with sales growing by more than 2200% since 2007, there’s a lot more plastic hitting the shelves. But times have changed since the 20th century, and that’s not how we do things anymore. 

Recycled vinyl

In recent years, many traditionally virgin-plastic items have been redesigned to reflect the environmental movement. Plastic straws have turned to paper, the LEGO brick has turned to rPET, and plastic cling film has turned to…

Well, the point is that many manufacturers and brands who can avoid virgin plastic polymers, have done just that. So, is there a way to make the classic vinyl out of materials that don’t cost the earth?

Yes, it turns out there is! 

The new “Ocean Vinyl” has already hit the record shops with singer-songwriter Nick Mulvey’s single ‘The Anthropocene’ etched into its surface. 

Composed from recycled “fishing nets, fishing line, candy wrappers, potato chip bags” and other plastics found in the ocean, this new ‘green’ recycled vinyl manages to save the planet whilst maintaining its status as a “high-quality playable record”, according to Mulvey. 

And what’s more, each Ocean recycled Vinyl looks completely unique due to the uniqueness of the materials used to create them. 

Traditionally, the vinyl has been made out of PVC, Polyvinyl Chloride, hence the name “Vinyl”. But due to the toxic nature of chloride, PVC has always been notoriously difficult to recycle; with most of the material ending up in landfill or incineration. 

The new Ocean recycled Vinyl on the other hand plans on “disrupting the music industry norms and questioning norms about how we consume things and how we treasure plastic, or usually not” says Mulvey. 

But with only around 100 limited edition copies of the disc being made so far, it is still yet to be identified how the Ocean Vinyl will be produced on a mass scale. 

And as many record pressing plants are already fully established with the way that they produce PVC vinyls, this new way of doing things could take a while to really kick in. 

So whilst this solution may not be the answer to the vinyl plastic problem, it could at least be a catalyst for the music industry to begin exploring new alternatives to the PVC disc. 

And as this years’ vinyl sales are expected to surpass that of the CD for the first time since the 80’s, there really is no better time to experiment. 

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