Warner Music, Germany's Sonopress — a manufacturer of records, CDs and Blu-ray discs — and SK Chemicals are rethinking the record, from material to production.
The EcoRecord, unveiled by the companies on Oct. 18, replaces PVC with PET from chemically recycled feedstock and molds 12-inch records on a 300-ton injection molding press.
In tests, the records were turned out at the same audio quality as traditional competitors but required only 85 percent of the energy used to make a vinyl version, the companies said in a news release. The project turned out so well that Sonopress made "extensive investment" for a pilot line dedicated to the LPs, including installing a new press.
"We've used the past weeks to check every production detail a hundred times over, comprehensively refine all production parameters and optimize the quality of the manufactured products so that we can now move into regular production with complete confidence," Sven Deutschmann, managing director of Sonopress, said in the release.
Sonopress already uses injection molding for DVDs, CDs and other optical discs at its plant in Gütersloh, Germany. The business is a subsidiary of Germany's largest media group, Bertelsmann. South Korea-based SK said it is considering an agreement that would ensure a steady supply of chemically recycled PET for Sonopress.
"Our goal with this project is to provide fans with the high-quality sound of vinyl, while minimizing carbon emissions in production and eliminating the use of PVC," said Salvatore Monteleone, executive vice president global operations for Warner Music.
Music in the vinyl format has grown in popularity recently, posting a 17.1 percent increase in 2022 alone.