What are the solutions for an eco-friendly vinyl?

What are the solutions for an eco-friendly vinyl?

Jun 24, 2024

It is no news anymore: with a tripling of global record sales over the past 10 years, vinyl is experiencing a significant boom that continues to grow. However, this resurgence faces climate concerns. Aging production tools, petroleum-based PVC, and overproduction are issues that concern vinyl enthusiasts: in the UK, 71% of Generation Z and 66% of millennials say they are willing to pay more for a sustainably produced record. Some artists, like Billie Eilish, are actively calling for a “greener” vinyl. How can we combine a passion for music with environmental awareness? Let’s explore the initiatives already in place or being considered to address these concerns.


PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), which makes up most old vinyl records, is a plastic that is difficult to recycle. Fortunately, several solutions already exist.


Several companies have taken on the challenge of finding alternative materials, thereby significantly reducing the use of petroleum.

In the UK, the company Evolution Music innovated by creating the first vinyl made from "bio-plastic" based on sugar beet, named "Evovinyl." The same company is also exploring the production of vinyl from waste collected on beaches. These bioplastics are non-toxic, compostable, and offer sound quality equivalent to traditional vinyl, while generating less static electricity, thus attracting much less dust!

In collaboration with the Bye Bye Plastic association, Evolution Music also developed a vinyl based on bacterial fermentation: a somewhat strange find, but it saves 15% energy in production. In France, since 2016, a bio-based record made from algae has been in development: the “Vinylgue.”

According to PVC manufacturer PlastChem, bio-vinyl can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90%.


Beyond bio-plastics, recycling is an essential solution. To reduce waste, some factories offer an “Eco Mix”: a technique of recycling defective vinyl and production residues to create new records. The advantage? The production costs of the Eco Mix are the same as for a classic pressing, its sound quality is identical, and it gives the record a unique marbled effect. Evolution Music is also considering a vinyl made from recycled plastic bottles.

According to packaging manufacturer SPG Group, the results are clear: recycling can halve the CO2 emissions from plastic.


Another issue the vinyl industry has faced is the aging hydraulic presses, which had to be put back into service with the vinyl revival of recent years but had long been without updates.

In Canada, Viryl Technologies developed much more modern vinyl presses like the “WarmTone,” which uses an induction heating system. Meanwhile, the Dutch collective Green Vinyl Records, with Good Neighbor, is developing a steam-free pressing machine with an injection molding system, reducing energy consumption by 60%. Pheenix Alpha offers machines that automatically include PVC excess in their production process, such as the “Pheenix Record Recycling Dinker.”


Beyond the record, the structure of factories is evolving, with increasing use of solar panels to power facilities with renewable energy, reducing water consumption, and thermal recycling redirecting machine heat to offices.


Eco-friendly means rethought packaging. Some printing companies like Calverts (in the UK) use water-based or vegetable oil-based inks, replacing solvent-based inks. For packaging, labels like Ninja Tune have opted for FSC-certified recycled cardboard sleeves. Plastic wraps are being replaced by biodegradable materials (like corn) or reused “second-hand” sleeves.


To reduce transport-related emissions, it is essential to promote local production. Packaging and vinyl company MPO International has relocated part of its production to France. Diggers Factory strategically plans its location, collaborating with locally based factories by region (America, Europe…).


To avoid overproduction and overconsumption, pre-order systems are essential. Diggers Factory has made this its flagship: relying on pre-orders means producing precisely the necessary quantities according to demand, thus reducing the risk of unsold items and unnecessary waste.


As we can see, the vinyl industry has not waited to address sustainability issues: new materials, recycling, optimizing production tools, and changing distribution methods are all tools that already significantly reduce the climatic impact of vinyl.

However, if you are a vinyl enthusiast and still concerned about your carbon footprint, stay calm: vinyl is more eco-friendly than streaming, provided it’s used properly!

According to Kyle Devine, a musicology professor at the University of Oslo who studied the environmental impact of music, the greenhouse gas emissions from streaming are twice as high as those from vinyl and cassette. MusicTank also published a study supporting this claim in 2012, stating that streaming an album more than 27 times was more energy-intensive than listening to it on vinyl. So, vinyl may ultimately be part of the solution.

Want to produce your own vinyl records while respecting the planet? At Diggers Factory, we have several eco-friendly solutions for artists and professionals. Feel free to contact us for more information!