An excerpt of Kyle Devine's Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music appeared in The Guardian this week.
Devine's piece begins in an unnamed record pressing plant in the US. During the visit he spots a "Product Of Thailand" stamp on a box of vinyl pellets, the raw material for records. He eventually ends up at the Thai Plastic & Chemicals Public Company Limited, headquartered in Bangkok, where over half of the polyvinyl chloride used by pressing plants is made. The article then runs down a number of sobering facts about the environmental toll of vinyl manufacture.
"PVC contains carcinogenic chemicals, and the operation produces toxic wastewater that the company has been known to pour into the Chao Phraya River according to Greenpeace, which says TPC has 'a history of environmental abuses' going back to the early '90s," Devine writes, going on to note that stateside PVC manufacturing in the '70s also led to illegal pollution including "exposing workers to toxic fumes, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and dumping toxic wastewater down the drain."
Online streaming, however, does not present a responsible alternative according to Devine: "[Streaming music relies] on infrastructures of data storage, processing and transmission that have potentially higher greenhouse gas emissions than the petrochemical plastics used in the production of more obviously physical formats such as LPs. To stream music is to burn coal, uranium and gas."
Check out the full article over at The Guardian. The report is an excerpt from Devine's new book, Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music, published by MIT Press.