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Ecological by Design.

At Key Production, we strive to maintain a sustainable business as part of a sustainable industry. We continue to research sustainable practices in manufacture and to share with others our knowledge of the subject. Significant progress toward sustainability has been made within the industry since Key started back in 1990, and we have constantly pursued that goal. Please check back here to monitor our continued efforts and innovations.

What we can do

The impact of individual actions on any eco-system can be as complicated and surprising as that eco-system itself, but there are changes and procedures that after some study would appear undeniably effective.

The regulations which all EU manufacturing plants must comply with mean that the PVC used in the manufacturing process must be free of the harmful elements ruled out by REACH Agreement standards. Key only manufacture vinyl and CD’s via EU factories.

PVC currently remains by far the best material for faithful audio reproduction, but it is also one of the most commonly and easily recycled materials. Some of our suppliers now recycle on premises to produce a regrind PVC comprising between 60% and 100% recycled material, without the further impact of transporting waste and recycled PVC. Other PVC waste can be reground for use in building and road construction.

The use of vegetable based ink and FSC certified paper have significantly reduced the environmental impact of the printing processes involved in sleeve and CD-pack printing, and Key Production continues to monitor studies into the benefits of recycling versus the drawbacks of the processes required to produce high quality recycled papers and boards.

Intelligent forecasting and careful planning help minimise any unnecessary impact in the transport of goods, by ensuring vehicles are carrying optimum capacity.

Key Production closely monitors and favours those plants sourcing energy efficient suppliers and innovative energy saving processes (such as heating their premises with energy generated as by-products of the manufacturing process), and works to encourage these practices in other plants.

At least one of our suppliers will offer carbon balancing on a project-by-project basis very soon. By endorsing the use of this scheme, Key will endeavour to encourage other plants to follow suit.

While the majority of our customers do still choose to shrinkwrap new product, shrink-wrap generates an insignificant proportion of the carbon emissions created in the manufacture of each product. When Key started in 1990, we rarely shrink-wrapped manufactured product, but the way that consumers buy music has changed and most product is now shrink-wrapped to reduce unavoidable damage in transit and retail. It can be argued that removing shrink-wrap in fact results in more waste due to the greater return of damaged stock. Conventional PE/PP film is recyclable (although, as with other plastics, only certain councils currently facilitate this). There are some newer films on the market (BYO and BOPLA) that are oxo-biodegradable, but there is still controversy over whether the components into which they break down are themselves harmful to the environment. All plants are working with suppliers to produce fully biodegradable shrink-wrap. We can offer alternatives such as a PVC outer sleeve as part of the product or a Belly- Band to authenticate that the product is new (although this option would not offer protection against damage).

Within our own office we have carbon–balanced our emissions and our transport, and this year we will offer Key customers the means of carbon balancing their manufacturing emissions and flights.

What we can’t do (yet…)

It has been calculated that the infrastructure required for the data storage of streaming services, coupled with user habits and the retail models and rapid turnover obsolescence of the various devices used to stream music, generate more greenhouse emissions than physically manufactured audio formats, but industrial scale manufacture does inevitably require the use of resources. While we cannot overcome this fact, we can continue to use our experience and knowledge to keep awareness of best environmental practice uppermost in our and our suppliers’ choices and to pursue advances in this direction.

Package Responsibly

A cherished album will be maintained and kept, used again and again and remain well-used and usable long after many another plastic products have been abandoned and discarded. By bringing together our combined skills, experience and working relationships, Key Production will continue to undertake to deliver to our customers and our customers’ customers, products that inspire appreciation, emotional durability and a sense of value.

What you can do…

There are many choices you can make to try and reduce the environmental impact of any order you place through Key Production. Here are a few ideas:


Vinyl Eco-Mix

This clever idea uses up coloured offcuts from previous vinyl runs, regrinds them, mixes them together and produces a run of randomised ‘lucky-dip’ colour vinyl. This cuts down on waste and can also result in some impressive colours as every single record pressed with the Eco-Mix has its own individual colour and effect. This can be a great incentive for fans wishing to own something unique while at the same time helping reduce the product’s environmental impact. And it’s cheaper than regular coloured vinyl!

As mentioned earlier, many plants can also offer the option to use a proportion of re-ground black vinyl which is taken from the offcuts left from regular black vinyl orders and mixed with new “virgin” vinyl, to reduce waste.

Less Is More: 140g Vinyl beats 180g in Sustainability

Every little helps, and although heavy vinyl can lend your record more substance and perceived value, 140gram vinyl has a proportionally lower carbon footprint than 180gram with regard to manufacturing and shipping.

Think beyond shrinkwrap

As already discussed, shrinkwrap is a complicated issue. Please check with your distributor or online retailer to check whether they definitely require shrinkwrap, and consider alternatives such as a more durable PVC dust cover or paper belly band.

Run from the Jewel

In 2007, Julie’s Bicycle, a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability, commissioned a study titled “Impacts and Opportunities: Reducing the Carbon Emissions of CD Packaging” from the Environmental Change Institute which revealed the recorded music industry could reduce its packaging emissions by up to 95% by switching from plastic jewel cases to card packaging. Since then, CD products have been slowly but surely moving away from plastic packaging towards cardboard sleeves. No more recent data has been collated, but we do suggest continued avoidance of CD plastic cases in favour of card options. Well-designed card packaging can look terrific and is a much greener option.

This said Amaray has recently produced a CD box that can be made from post-consumer waste and is lighter than standard plastic boxes. It is currently being trialled so watch this space.

All about Sustainable FSC-certified Paper, Card Stocks & Vegetable Inks

Sustainable FSC-certified paper and card stocks, low-carbon packaging options, the highest quality vegetable-based inks, premium water-based varnishes, and compliance with environmental industrial standards including ISO 14001 are the minimum we expect and accept from our suppliers.

ISO14001 is the internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system. Many of our suppliers are also Sony certified green partners, as well as being FSC certified and ISO50001 (certified energy management system) and ISO9001 (quality management) accredited.

One thing to be mindful of, if you wish for your release to be as eco-friendly as possible, is to consider avoiding certain special finishes on your card product. Extra processes like UV varnishes and laminate or foil finishes make waste left over from manufacture very difficult or impossible to recycle, as they turn a recyclable card into one with mixed materials – the enemy of all recycling plants.

Special Packaging: From foam to paper

For box sets consider a card fitment instead of foam. It’s recyclable and keeps all your items in place.

Clever Management of Deliveries

Transport of your finished stock is also a consideration. Intelligent forecasting and careful planning help Key minimise any unnecessary impact in the transport of goods by ensuring vehicles are carrying optimum capacity.

For example, if you have European stock being made in Europe, we can arrange direct delivery within Europe for you.

Please do ask us to advise you on how to better manage your deliveries. We are happy to help you to help the planet.

Carbon Balancing

Key Production chooses its suppliers not only on their ability to deliver the high quality we demand, but also on their ability to demonstrate ecological sustainability in their business practices, ensuring their environmental impact is mitigated.

All of our suppliers are continually updating processes to make their facilities better ecologically, re-using vinyl waste in vinyl production, recycling all card waste, using waste energy to heat offices and introducing carbon offsetting.


We know that mistakes can be made and sometimes you can end up with overstocks which need to be disposed of. Distributors will usually have a responsible recycling scheme of their own so please check there first, but we are also working towards providing a central recycling hub where we can guarantee that every element of a product is being recycled responsibility, for those occasions when a distributor can’t help.

If in any doubt please do contact us for further advice!