RIAA and NARM recently released a report on sustainable CD Packaging. The report: Comparing Packaging Options for Compact Discs – An Environmental and Toxicological Assessment is a product of the Sustainable Packaging Working Group, comprised of representatives of the record labels, music retailers and industry vendors.
Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are cited by SPWG members as the most pressing environmental concern for their companies. The table above shows the results for greenhouse gas emissions for each packaging option across the life cycle for U.S. average disposal methods with recycling and without recycling (labeled as the “base case”).
The report offers the following recommendations which it says will reduce the environmental impacts of CD packaging considerably and build up brand image as companies that are acting proactively to address environmental problems.
-Minimize the weight of all packaging components to the extent possible.
-Replace polystyrene with polypropylene.
-Consider the environmental trade-offs associated with moving from polymers to paperboard packaging.
-Maximize the recycled content of paperboard packaging.
-Reduce or eliminate the use of PVC in jewel cases or plastic film.
-Consider the use of PLA, particularly for CD trays in digipak-style packages.
-Ask suppliers for paperboard packaging designs that are stiff enough to be processed in an over-wrapping machine, as opposed to being shrink-wrapped.
-All inks used by suppliers and printers in the industry should adhere to CONEG or similar regulations certifying a minimal level of cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, and lead. Depending on brightness and color requirements, vegetable- or soy-based inks should be considered wherever possible.
-Moving from plastic to paperboard CD packaging will necessitate increases use of adhesives, to fasten paperboard front-to-back, affix liner notes, and/or affix plastic CD hubs in the base of digipak-style packages. Low- or no-VOC adhesives that do not contain any known carcinogens should be pursued wherever possible.
-Investigate the required strength of bonds for paperboard packaging and stickers, and avoid the use of unnecessarily strong adhesives, as these tend to have proportionally higher environmental impacts.
-Much of the pulp and paper industry has moved away from elemental-chlorine bleaching and the use of highly toxic materials in pulp digesters, but SPWG members should seek out upstream users who are committed to these practices.
-For all packaging options, and especially the plastic jewel cases, materials should be clearly identified and labeled for proper end of life handling including recycling.
-Minimize the number of materials used in a single jewel case.
-Consider offering carbon offsets to those customers who would like to address the greenhouse gas impacts of their music and its packaging.
-Whatever measures are taken by SPWG to address the environmental impacts of CD packaging should be advertised prominently.