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SK Chemicals, Sonopress Make 'EcoRecord' Using 100% Recycled Materials

The new recycling technique is more efficient and more repeatable than traditional recycling methods.

The 'EcoRecord' is made from 100% recycled materials.
The "EcoRecord" is made from 100% recycled materials.
SK Chemicals via IEN

SK Chemicals and record producer Sonopress last week unveiled the "EcoRecord," a co-developed LP made from 100% recycled materials.

To make the EcoRecord LP, the team replaced the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in traditional record production with circular recycled PET (CR PET), reducing energy consumption by about 85% because the processes don't require natural gas or steam during production. The team believes reducing greenhouse gas emissions during production could attract attention from the global music industry.

Circular recycling is an exclusive chemical recycling technology of SK Chemicals that breaks down discarded plastics through chemical reactions into raw material units and then uses these raw materials to produce recycled plastics. Traditional recycling methods clean and reuse waste plastics or cut them into flakes to recycle them. SK's process ensures that the quality and safety of the plastic remain high even after recycling multiple times.

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Sonopress has been working on R&D for the project for two years. The new EcoRecord is produced in an injection molding machine that exerts up to 300 tons of pressure. Sonopress, a subsidiary of German media group Bertelsmann, which also makes CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, plans to set up a new production line for the EcoRecord.

SK is looking into business agreements with local distributors and Sonopress to ensure a stable supply of circular recycled materials.

According to Kim Eung-soo, head of the green materials business division at SK, the company's recent acquisition of the Shuye Environmental Technologies plant in Shantou, China, has helped secure a stable supply chain for 50,000 tons of circular recycled PET. Shuye is a provider of PET depolymerisation technology. 

Last September, SK also signed an agreement with waste recycling company Shanghai Yuekun to secure a stable source of waste plastic for future production.

According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the 2022 market size for traditional media, like CDs and LP records, is $4.6 billion, accounting for 17.5% of the total market, including streaming. While sales of CDs are declining, LP record sales have increased by 17.1%.

While dozens of record-pressing factories have been built to meet North American demand, manufacturers have struggled to keep pace with demand. 

Sven Deutschmann, Sonopress CEO, said the SK collaboration helped push his company into developing 12-inch LP records and investing in the production line.

In February, almost 30 years after the last LP was produced at Sonopress in Gütersloh, Germany, the company announced the revival of LP production at a small ceremony held in Sainte Marguerite, France, where records are made on two state-of-the-art pressing machines, primarily for BMG.

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