Warner Music Group Shifting Away From 180G Vinyl – Shifting More Production to the US

Warner Music vinyl
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Warner Music vinyl
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Photo Credit: Manuel Sardo

Warner Music Group has released its second annual Environmental Social Governance (ESG) report. It reveals the music company is continuing its shift away from 180g vinyl to reduce environmental impact during production.

WMG says it has invested significantly over the years to reduce the environmental impact of record manufacturing. The company is investing in ways to produce records without using PVC, in addition to adopting vinyl recycling from production offcuts that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Avoiding the use of virgin materials helps lower carbon emissions, reduces plastic waste, and increases transport efficiency. 

After experimenting in 2022 with a large-scale release of re-vinyl for Coldplay’s Music of the Spheres album, WMG continued on with other re-vinyl releases. They include the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ European release of their new album, Return of the Dream Canteen and The Staves’ 10th anniversary album reissue of Dead & Born & Grown.

WMG also ran a workshop series on WMG’s Global Green Product and Packaging Design Guidelines to help teams learn how to design better packaging for vinyl, cassettes, and C.D.s to reduce their environmental impact. A top recommendation during that workshop was to press new album releases on 140g vinyl instead of 180g vinyl. 

“We’re thrilled to report that in 2022 we pressed roughly 60% of our global vinyl products on 140g discs, reducing our output of virgin raw plastic by approximately 470 tonnes,” the ESG report reads. “Additionally, we’re poised to produce nearly three times the number of discs in the U.S. for the U.S. market in 2023. This will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sea or air freight that would have otherwise come from European-based manufacturing facilities.”

WMG’s vinyl manufacture in the U.K. saw 94% of new vinyl releases pressed on 140g vinyl, reducing the use of raw plastic by 27 tonnes. 

Why is vinyl manufacturing so hard on the environment?

The main component in a vinyl record is plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is made from petrochemicals. Pressing plants can use antiquated steam boilers and a toxic brew of chemicals to make records, giving vinyl 12 times the greenhouse gas emissions of other physical media production like CDs.

“The demand for recycled components is still in the minority, but it does seem like it’s been gaining some steam over the past couple of years,” says Matt Earley, owner of the Cleveland, Ohio pressing plant, Gotta Groove Records.