Most of us will be aware of the terrifying climate change facts laid out in this week’s IPCC Report. If we are going to avoid climate catastrophe we need to act now, there’s no longer time for procrastination – it’s now or never!

The recent IFPI Global Music Report shows that music revenues are soaring. As music lovers this should be a cause for celebration.  But there is a question which virtually no-one is asking - what exactly is the environmental cost? Record companies have hired sustainability experts and developed environmental policies and it’s clear that many bands and artists want to help protect the planet but is the music industry doing enough? And does anybody really understand the full scope of the problem?

Here’s some food for thought:

Vinyl record sales grew by 51.3% last year. Over 99% of records are made from PVC plastic containing toxic chemicals. They can't be recycled & take around 1000 years to decompose. Non-toxic, recyclable records do exist so why aren't the big plants pressing them?

Click here for the full IFPI Global Music Report

Click here for Pitchfork article about environmental impact of vinyl records

Heavier & thicker vinyl does not create better records. A 140g record sounds as good as a 180g record (or better if the audio mastering quality is higher).

So why the hell are 200g+ records being introduced?

Poor quality control by record companies commissioning vinyl records, and overburdened vinyl pressing plants struggling to cope with ever increasing demand, is leading to too defective records which are recalled and returned.

Cost cutting on packaging by record distributors is leading to too many damaged records and returned records.

And the sale or return process provided to corporate record sellers such as HMV and Amazon (and a small number of larger indies) creates excess unsold records

Does anyone know how many of these unplayed records are being sent to landfill? It still appears to be a well kept industry secret.

CD discs have a lower carbon footprint than a vinyl record but unlike records they are encased in non recyclable plastic. Only a tiny number of CDs are produced in biodegradable packaging instead.  It's fabulous that some record companies and artists are making an effort, it's time for more to join them!

Surprisingly STREAMING IS NOT THE ANSWER as it has a higher carbon footprint than CDs & vinyl records.

The carbon footprint of Spotify streams for 2021’s highest selling single 'Drivers Licence' by Olivia Rodrigo was the equivalent of 4,000 return flights between London to New York.

Click here to read the full New Statesman article about the environmental cost of music streaming

2019 sales revenue from band merchandise was an enormous $3.5bn - most of this revenue came from clothing.

Band merchandise is virtually always sourced & printed as cheaply as possible due to profit from merchandise being so crucial for touring bands. Very little band merchandise is made sustainably (or ethically) and the environmental cost is high. Well done The 1975 for showing that it can be done differently!

Now for the good news! This crucially important issue is being talked about and there are some terrific organisations championing environmental change in the music industry. Here are three of them Music Declares Emergency, Earth Percent, Julie's Bicycle.

AND Simon and Rachel are delighted to be discussing the music industry's Plastic Problem with Chris Packham, Greenpeace UK, Tim Burgess and others in a Twitter Space discussion hosted by Clash Magazine tomorrow (Friday 8 April) at noon BST (GMT +1) click here to read the article, sign up for a reminder and join the discussion

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