20 Apr 2024

The Auckland record store pressing vinyl made out of cooking oil

8:14 pm on 20 April 2024

By Sam Smith of Stuff

Holiday Records in Auckland is the only place in Australasia that presses biovinyl.

Holiday Records in Auckland is the only place in Australasia that presses biovinyl. Photo: Sam Smith

It's Record Store Day in Aotearoa. This means that around the country, record stores will be full of collectors rummaging through the bins looking for a bargain, a surprise, an album they have wanted for years but just couldn't find.

In an age of music streaming this may be a surprise to many, however, one Auckland record store is taking the new-found interest in vinyl one step further, a step they are hoping can make a difference environmentally.

Holiday Records is one of only two places in New Zealand that still presses vinyl records. However, here they do things slightly different.

At Holiday, they have started pressing what is known as biovinyl. What is that you ask? Well it is a type of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but instead of using fossil fuel-derived resins, this vinyl is made out of bio resins, so things such as recycled cooking oil or wood pulp.

Records have traditionally been made out of plastic PVC. However, this material is highly toxic and bad for the environment.

A 2019 study from Keele University estimated that a single vinyl record required 135g of PVC to produce, leaving a carbon footprint of about 0.5kg of CO2 per record.

This means, for example, the 55.51 million records sold in the UK and US in 2023 created 27.76 tonnes of CO2 from the materials alone used to make the records.

Joel Woods at Holiday Records says biovinyl reduces the fossil fuel emissions of vinyl pressing by 92%, something his store is very passionate about in their quest to become the most sustainable vinyl pressing plant in the world.

"Everyone who works at Holiday Records is passionate about the sustainable aspects of our business and we want to make Holiday Records as sustainable as possible," Woods said.

Currently Holiday Records is the only vinyl pressing plant in Australasia that is investing in biovinyl, and Woods said their plan is to eventually phase out normal PVC vinyl completely.

"We hope to think that these products aren't single-use and they don't go back to the bin, they get kept and they get passed on to generations so hopefully a lot of them avoid going to the dump. But in saying that, they also do require fossil fuels to make, so when we changed from normal PVC to biovinyl that sort of eliminates the impact in terms of the raw materials that we use."

Old vinyl records being recycled at Holiday Records.

Old vinyl being recycled at Holiday Records. Photo: Sam Smith

Musicians themselves have already been embracing more environmentally friendly vinyl. Billie Eilish, for example, recently announced her new album will be released on eco-friendly vinyl.

Woods says the artist can have sway when it comes to deciding whether they want their music released on biovinyl.

"I'm sure depending on who the artist is, if they have a bit of sway, they can demand it. It's up to the artist and up to the label to make that call and we obviously offer it as much as we can. It's not a lot more expensive than standard black vinyl. It's kind of $1 more, which is about the same as a coloured record."

As for how it sounds? Woods says there is no difference between biovinyl and regular vinyl.

"We find it is identical. We sent out a bunch of samples to labels and some artists around Australia and New Zealand, the same record pressed on bio and standard and we've got really good responses."

Alongside their adaption of biovinyl, Holiday Records have introduced a vinyl recycling programme where customers can bring in their old or disused records to be recycled.

"People can bring in their records, old records, new records, records that they don't want anymore, and now we can recycle them, which basically involves punching out the centre label, getting rid of the paper, then grinding up the plastic."

"We thought we'd do our best to try to make it as circular as possible, not just for us, but for consumers," Woods said.

- Stuff

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