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New book, ‘Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music’, will explore music’s impact on the environment

What happens to vinyl records when they are disposed of?

A new book titled 'Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music' will explore music's impact on the environment. 

The book which uncovers "the environmental cost of vinyl" is written by Kyle Devine, who is the head of research and associate professor in the department of musicology at the University of Oslo.

According to a news release, "Devine uncovers the hidden history of recorded music - what recordings are made of and what happens to them when they are disposed of.

"In Decomposed, Devine offers shows that recorded music has always been a significant exploiter of both natural and human resources, and that its reliance on these resources is more problematic today than ever before. 

In the book, which is being published by MIT Press, Devine says that stateside PVC manufacturing in the '70s led to illegal pollution including "exposing workers to toxic fumes, releasing toxic chemicals into the air and dumping toxic wastewater down the drain".

When talking about online streaming, he says that it does not present a responsible alternative because "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 our feature that explores whether "our vinyl obsession can ever be environmentally friendly".