Our commitment goes beyond making records. We are continually looking for more sustainable practices in manufacture and share our knowledge with others in the industry.
A cherished album will be played again and again and still be usable long after many other plastic products have been discarded.
Emissions from downloads and streaming in 2016 were actually greater than emissions from all physical manufacture in 1977!
Plastic usage peaked around the year 2000 at the height of CD manufacture and has dropped ever since as physical manufacture declined. Yet online music consumption can also be energy intensive. Files need to be stored on servers that need to be maintained and the total greenhouse gases emissions have actually increased in the digital era, mainly due to streaming.
So what can you do if you love your music? Buy it! Ultimately whether it's an MP3, a FLAC or coloured vinyl; if you're going to play that tune again and again you're being kinder to the environment and supporting your favourite artists.
Manufacturing is going to have an impact on the environment, but we are doing everything we can to keep this to a minimum.
Distributors will usually have a responsible recycling scheme of their own so please check there first. We are working towards providing a central recycling hub where we can guarantee that every element of a product is being recycled responsibly for those occasions when a distributor can’t help. Key only manufactures vinyl and CD’s via EU factories. All EU manufacturing plants are subject to the 2007 REACH agreement, which means that the compounds used to manufacture must be free of harmful heavy metals and carcinogenic chemicals.
Vinyl records are made using a PVC compound. PVC remains by far the best material for faithful audio reproduction, and is also one of the most commonly and easily recycled materials. Most 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.
CDs are made mainly from optical grade polycarbonate. For CD manufacture, there is far less plastic waste from the production process itself due to the way the discs are made. Damaged or faulty product can be recycled but the polycarbonate cannot be reused in production so is recycled at specialist facilities.
The use of vegetable based ink and FSC certified paper reduce the environmental impact of the printing processes involved in sleeve and CD-pack printing. We also monitor studies into the benefits of recycling versus the drawbacks of the processes required to produce high quality recycled papers and boards.
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.
Our suppliers are all; ISO 14001 (environmental management system), Sony certified green partners, FSC Certified, ISO50001 (certified energy management system) and ISO9001 (quality management) accredited.
Check out King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's ‘Love Record Stores’special edition which used recycled board and plant based inks throughout.
Standard shrink-wrap is called PE/PP film and is recyclable. 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).
All manufacturing plants we use are working with suppliers to produce fully biodegradable shrink-wrap.
When Key started in 1990, we rarely shrink-wrapped manufactured product, nowadays many distributors won’t accept stock without external protection to reduce damage in transit. People consider that removing shrink-wrap may result in more waste due to the greater return of damaged stock.
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 closed-loop energy systems and heat exchanges), and we work to encourage these practices in other plants. Our requirements are for them to demonstrate ecological sustainability in their business practices, ensuring their environmental impact is mitigated.
Some of out suppliers offer carbon balancing on a project-by-project basis. By endorsing the use of this scheme, Key will endeavour to encourage other plants to follow suit.
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.
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.
You've decided that you're going to make a record but the choices you make when it comes to packaging can reduce the environmental impact of your release.
Made using coloured offcuts from previous vinyl runs. They are reground, mixed together, and produce 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 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 no more expensive than regular coloured vinyl!
Plants can also offer the option to use re-ground black vinyl, taken from the offcuts left from black vinyl orders and mixed with new “virgin” vinyl, to reduce waste.
Less Is More - 140g vinyl beats 180g in Sustainability. Every little helps, despite heavy vinyl lending your record more substance and perceived value… 140gram vinyl has a proportionally lower carbon footprint than 180gram with regard to manufacturing and shipping. An order of 1000 standard weight vinyl means using and shipping 40kg less plastic!
Check out King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard's ‘Love Record Stores’ special edition which used Eco-Mix vinyl throughout.
We 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.
CD products have been slowly but surely moving away from plastic packaging towards cardboard sleeves. All our suppliers can supply FSC certified paper and board, which means the paper and card is sourced from managed, sustainable forests.
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.
Consider avoiding certain special finishes on your card product. Extra processes like laminate 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.
For box sets consider a card fitment instead of foam. It’s recyclable and keeps all your items in place.
Please check with your distributor or online retailer to check whether they definitely require shrink-wrap and consider alternatives such as a more durable PVC dust cover or paper belly band.
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.