CD Packaging Study: “It Isn’t Easy Being Green”

Frog "Comparing Packaging Options For Compact Discs – A Environmental & Toxicological Assessment," a new RIAA and NARM joint study of CD packaging highlights the enviTree handronmental impact of various CD packaging options. 

Think moving from less plastic to more cardboard – even recycled cardboard – is the answer to going green? Think again.  Some new packaging still uses a bit of plastic to hold the CD in place and that creates a "mixed"  recyclable that can be even more difficult to dispose of.  Even all-cardboard cases cause problems unless you use just the right adhesives since most glues contain carcinogens.

The 69 page study recommends an open dialog between artists, labels and suppliers to find and use the greenest available packaging for each project and the use of eco-labeling to keep consumers informed. Or we could all just go digital…

Share on:


  1. What a joke…..How much did they spend making this report? What was the resulting carbon footprint for the report as well? The actual discs themselves are the worst culprits….Why don’t the RIAA just get back to doing what they’re good at…. like suing downloaders

  2. To me, it’s only “packaging” when it’s disposable, and I’m old enough to not regard CDs as disposable. The cardboard CD cases fail in several key ways:
    They don’t stack well; they get scuffed up and corners bent when handled outside, or in a car; they aren’t water-resistant; and THEY AREN’T REPLACABLE if damaged.
    (At least my cats haven’t gotten into scratching cardboard CD cases yet; kitties did a number on many of my old LP jackets.)
    Give me the traditional jewel case, please. I expect to keep this CD until I die, and I hope someone else will want it when I’m gone.

  3. I completely agree with what my forespeakers have said. The so-called ecopak format does indeed rot faster than other packaging formats for CDs. But I, the customer, have no interest in my CD rotting away quickly. It’s those who want to sell more and more of the same product whose interest it is to decrease that product’s lifespan: the labels, so they can sell yet again. Neil Young says “tried to save the trees / bought a plastic bag / bottom fell out / it was a piece of crap”. The same can be said for the ecopak. I avoid them whenever I can, and I hope they are just a fad. The digipak is OK, though, because with these, the CD is held in a tray that prevents it from being scratched. I like the jewelcase. Or even better, the Super-Jewelcase. Still, it’s possible to construct a digipak from recycled material if you want to be eco-friendly.
    But the ecopak is just a cynical attempt of the labels to drown out the used CD market of the future and disguise this by a promotional campaign as being environmentally concious. When the music isn’t quite up to par, which strangely has always been the case with most CDs that also have some kind of a mass-market appeal, and the packaging is inferior, I’m much more likely to skip buying an album altogether. Recent albums that I haven’t bought because of this include “Detours” by Sheryl Crow, “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings” by Counting Crows, “Time the Conqueror” by Jackson Browne, “Fork in the Road” by Neil Young. There are more that I don’t remember.

Comments are closed.