PMC has invested in Evolution Music, the UK-based company spearheading the development of Evovinyl, a plant-based alternative to the environmentally damaging PVC currently used to press vinyl records. The investment will assist in the quest to move the music industry toward a more sustainable future.

Peter Thomas, PMC’s founder and Chairman, and keen environmentalist, was introduced to Marc Carey, CEO of Evolution Music, by a mutual friend and record producer, Bill Gautier (Paul McCartney, The Cure, Fleet Foxes).

Peter says, “I met with Bill and Marc at Evolution Music’s office, where we talked about our shared passions for music, vinyl and the environment. Our conversation made me realise that while we are making products to replay music, and we love the sound and experience of vinyl, the creation of millions of records each year is very bad for the environment. Marc’s quest is a worthy one of which I was keen to be a part.”

Global production of records accounts for around 30,000t of PVC per year (source – Disc International) and while that is a small percentage of the 40 million tonnes of PVC produced each year, every sector has to do its bit to help reduce the damaging effects of this plastic.

PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, to give it its full name, has been described as the ‘most environmentally damaging plastic’, according to Greenpeace, due to its production, use and disposal, all of which result in the release of toxic chlorine-based chemicals which build up in the water, air and food chain.

“Our main driver is a genuine concern for the environment. It is not greenwashing, but a real desire to try and do something to remove PVC from our industry,” says Peter. “We’re also going to be looking at this technology to see if we can use it to replace the plastic parts in PMC loudspeakers.

“Everyone in the hifi industry should get behind this project. It’s not about PMC or me, but something much, much bigger than that. I have heard the latest test pressings and am able to confirm that they sound every bit as good as traditional records. Getting us on board, and hopefully bringing other members of the industry with us on this journey, will bring audiophile acclaim to the new product.”

The new material is manufactured from sugar cane. It is a compostable product with no environmental impact upon disposal and has a sustainable ethos throughout the production process.

Marc explains, “We needed this project to be as sustainable as possible, from production to disposal, and so the life cycle analysis is very important to us. Evolution will be working with an expert team as part of our R&D to complete a full LCA, to ensure that the people who grow the cane are working in a good environment and not using toxic fertilisers. This is not the case with some other so-called environmental alternatives to PVC.”

“It also potentially enables the record presses to run at a lower temperature than is required for PVC. Testing to date has shown a 30% energy saving if a plant switches entirely to this product. And it takes 50% less time to press a record, so big energy savings are possible.”

After five years of R&D, the Evovinyl product is finally ready for entry into the marketplace. The sound quality has been assessed by industry professionals such as Rob Cass, an in-house producer at Abbey Road Studios, who was speechless when he learnt that it was made entirely from plants; and Peter, who confirms that its performance is indistinguishable from traditional vinyl. Like existing vinyl, it can be pressed in any colour in addition to black, and an added advantage of this new material for audio use is that it naturally dissipates static, preventing the attraction of dust.

Peter sums up his feelings, “So with the product finalised and the major record labels keen to get involved, with one that has pledged to move all production over to the new material; and a number of established artists, including a multi-Grammy winning artist who has expressed interest in their next album being pressed using Evovinyl, we are in a good position to make a positive change to the audio and music industries’ impact on the environment.”

To read more on PMC, click here.

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