Sound and Sustainability: A New Spin on the Vinyl Record Revival - Return Polymers

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Sound and Sustainability: A New Spin on the Vinyl Record Revival

March 18, 2024

From old-school favorites to brand-new releases, vinyl records have made a major comeback in recent years. Through our partnership with Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland, Ohio, Return Polymers is pumped to be part of that story.

What’s Behind the “Vinyl Revival”?

Bucking against the electronic trends, the “vinyl revival” has brought back the tactile and analog experience of handling music. There’s nothing like flipping through a record bin, browsing all that cover art, carefully handling a record, and placing it on a turntable. 

Older generations love the nostalgia of a physical connection to music, while younger generations are experiencing the thrill of the unique, warm, and rich sound quality generated through vinyl.

So much time, thought, and attention goes into the order and creation of an album and its cover, which is usually lost on a digital platform. But collectors and music lovers alike have missed the lyric sheets, inserts, and album cover art that accompany freshly pressed vinyl records.

Vinyl records have also become a symbol of physical music ownership. Vinyl has carved out a niche as a format that offers a unique and valued experience, differentiating itself from the digital and streaming-dominated landscape.

The Surprising Environmental Appeal of Vinyl Records

Another huge but perhaps overlooked value to the vinyl revival is its emphasis on sustainability. 

We’re not kidding! Vinyl offers several significant advantages over other physical forms of music ownership, and even over digital music.

Vinyl records are known for their longevity and durability. Unlike CDs, when properly cared for, vinyl records can last for decades without degradation in sound quality. 

Digital music devices, such as MP3 players and smartphones, contribute to electronic waste (e-waste) at the end of their lifecycle (and we all know the typical lifespan of a smartphone these days). These devices often contain hazardous materials and can be challenging to recycle. Vinyl records don’t contribute to electronic waste. Vinyl is longer lasting, and usually even the turntables used to play records can last for decades. Once users are done with these devices, they’re usually bought by a new owner rather than dumped into landfills, extending the lifespan even longer.

Vinyl records are often packaged in cardboard and other sustainable design options, while CD jewel cases are typically made of plastic—either polystyrene or polypropylene. Some recycling facilities will take polypropylene, but far fewer will recycle polystyrene.

And here’s where we come in: Vinyl records are primarily made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and that’s what we recycle. CDs, on the other hand, are made of polycarbonate plastic and a reflective layer of aluminum, which makes their manufacturing and recycling process more complex and energy-intensive.Through our partnership with Gotta Groove Records, we’re able to take vinyl scrap from their production process and recycle it into reusable material. Gotta Groove offers buyers the option to press records made from recycled vinyl. Recycled material comes in a variety of colors, or you can leave the color up to whatever they have on-hand for a discounted rate.

We’re just one small part of Gotta Groove’s commitment to environmental sustainability, but we’re proud to be a part of their efforts to create a closed loop process of vinyl production, bringing the thrill and pleasure of the physical music experience to audiophiles everywhere.

Wanna groove with Return Polymers’ PVC recycling program? We’d love to connect with you and put your vinyl scrap back into production. Learn more about our full-cycle vinyl recycling program and connect today.

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