The Death of the Compact Disc

Julie's Bicycle has just released their report on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK music industry.  The organisation was set-up to research the impact of the industry and make recommendations on how to reduce CO2 and the other emissions contributing to climate change.

The report includes a set of short term recommendations for reducing the industry's carbon footprint.  These include standard housekeeping measures - like energy audits, switching to a green electricity tariff, and engaging their suppliers in emission reductions.

From the total of 538,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses produced by us musos, 26% of the industry's emissions relate to the cradle-to-grave lifecycle of the compact disc.  Julie's Bicycle therefore recommend that the industry "move to low emissions CD packaging".

But is that really the answer?

The industry is in itself in a state of change.  Downloads have shaken things up, and CD sales are in decline.  People may be continuing to purchase CDs, but what would be most interesting would be to see stats on how many people buy albums on disc, convert them digitally, and then file the CDs or sell them on (or throw them away ...) - thus never needing to use them again.

CDs have never had the collectable status as vinyl has.  They are a format that was imposed up on the consumer - indeed there have always been many opponents to discs since they were introduced.

With the industry in a state of flux, this is a good time for labels to shake things up.  For those that want the format to retain, sustainable packaging should be considered - rather than simply resorting to the standard jewel case, do something remarkable.  CD packaging that is collectable, and made from sustainable materials, will be more highly valued by fans.

But perhaps the answer inevitably lies in the format itself.  Is it time to just let the CD die?

Read the full report from Julie's Bicycle here.

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