Music Industry Advises on How to Reduce Packaging Impacts

Music Industry Advises on How to Reduce Packaging Impacts

Two major music industry groups are recommending that industry players minimize the weight of CD packaging, understand the pros and cons of different packaging materials, avoid PVC and take a number of other steps to reduce the impacts of packaging.

The report containing all the packaging analysis and advice, "Comparing Packaging Options for Compact Discs: An Environmental and Toxicological Assessment,” was prepared for the Recording Industry Association of America and National Association of Recording Merchandisers by Sustainability A to Z.

The report looks at cradle-to-grave impacts, from sourcing of raw material to landfilling or incineration, for different types of CD packaging, including polystyrene and polypropylene jewel cases, virgin and 100 percent recycled paperboard, PVC, bio-based polylactic acid and hybrid paper-plastic packages.

In analyzing the various impacts on the environment and human health, the report puts forth a number of recommendations:

* Reduce the weight of all packaging components as much as possible.

* Consider using polypropylene jewel cases as a replacement for polystyrene cases since polypropylene performs better in all environmental areas the report looked at.

* Understand the upsides and downsides when comparing plastic to paperboard. Move to paperboard only when high recycled content material can be used and existing equipment can be used. When using paperboard, ask suppliers for designs stiff enough to be processed in over-wrapping machines instead of shrinkwrapping.

* Avoid using PVC since it poses a greater amount of hazards to the environment and human health.

* Identify what materials the packaging is made out of, and identify if it is recyclable or not.

* With jewel cases, use only one type of material; don't mix plastics.

* Use adhesives that emit no or low volatile organic compounds.

* Inform consumers about what steps you are taking to reduce packaging impacts.

The report provides an in-depth look at lifecycle impacts of each packaging, and clearly states what manufacturing steps are included and excluded from the analysis. For example, the analysis covers packaging production, packaging assembly, application of top-spine stickers and incineration or landfill. It leaves out such things as production of booklets and security tags, boxing, shipping and recycling plastic cases.

Along with its recommendations, the report provides a host of other advice from groups like the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership, Diamond Packaging's Greenbox Initiative and Environmental Defense.

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