Can vinyl records be recycled, then? What is the process like? Is it easy? Why not? Other things made from PVC can be recycled, right? What gives?
All this and more today on this episode of Notes on Vinyl – we explore why vinyl is not so easy to recycle and some easy alternatives you might follow.
Can Vinyl Records Be Recycled Easily?
Yes and no. Sure, you can recycle a vinyl record, but the process is incredibly complicated and requires specialized recycling facilities. These can be incredibly difficult to find and might not even exist in your area yet.
Recycling vinyl records is a tricky process precisely because of their chemical composition. In asking what vinyl records are made of, we find that the answer is in the name itself – PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride).
You might be more familiar with this in the acronym PVC, for it has a multitude of different uses. Many of the other things it is used for are far more widely accepted by companies that recycle things.
Old vinyl records, though, are made from much thicker layers of the PVC substance, and thus are much more difficult to break down. To recycle vinyl records, you must be willing to deal with all of the toxic fumes emitted by the melting process.
Yes, indeed, old records release a whole load of poisonous gases that must be contained at all costs. Otherwise, they will escape into the atmosphere and damage to the local wildlife or even the human population.
In this way, recycled vinyl can do more damage than simply chucking a record collection onto a waste heap. Are vinyl records recyclable? Sure, but the lengths that you have to go to do it properly as extraordinary.
Until record sales rise enough to make this a priority, it is unlikely that this kind of recycling facility is going to become more common. Indeed, digital music still reigns supreme, and rare albums can’t be found easily.
Surely, though, with the new rise of cassette tapes and similar technology, there may be developments in their recycling too.
Alternatives to Recycling Records
Seeing as there is unlikely to be an old record recycling facility near you anytime soon, here are some suggestions for how you can recycle those records and cassette tapes yourself:
One of the premier recycling ideas that is going to profit you as well as the environment is selling your vinyl to others. This is especially applicable if the audio quality of your records is still in good shape.
In these cases, why not pass your records on so that they can find a use in the arms and ears of a new listener?
You will have noticed that the material that vinyl is made from, PVC, is present in many products. It can exist either as a backing character or their main ingredient. Being such an integral aspect of these products, you can turn your old vinyl into just about anything you can imagine.
One of the easier options is to use your old 7-inch vinyl record types as drinks coasters. You can also use 12-inch records as placemats at your dinner table.
The sky really is the limit – the only bounds are those of your imagination. So go as wild as you like and never look back. Want to know how to cut vinyl records into shape? Wonder no longer.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this article has been of use to you, whether you initially sought to know whether or not vinyl records can be recycled, or whether you knew this already and simply wanted to know of some alternatives.
FAQs Can Vinyl Records Be Recycled?
Whether you should throw away your vinyl records very much depends on what state they are in. Consider selling them online or even just giving them away to a bargain store. If they are in decent condition, then why not pass them on to others so that they can be loved again?
Vinyl records are technically recyclable, though the process can be complex. It involves very few dedicated recycling facilities suited to the purpose. The melting down of thick PVC produces many toxic gases that need to be dealt with in their own way.
Not really, no. Though there have been some serious efforts since the second vinyl boom to make records greener. Seeing as they are made from crude oil fashioned into discs, they are not very environmentally friendly. The fact that they are hard to recycle and the excess is often not used to produce more records only adds to the matter.