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It’s hard to recycle vinyl records. They are terrible to convert into reusable materials because of their chemical composition. They are however perfect for upcycling, to be re-used as components for completely new products. Finally you can always sell them or gift them to people who can appreciate them more.


Introduction – Are Vinyl Records Recyclable

Can I recycle old vinyl records that are broken or I barely listen to? I was wondering about this and realised that I wasn’t sure about this at all. I figured that it’d hard because vinyl records always seemed so sturdy to me and I had just written it off. But now that I have this blog, I thought why not actually take a closer look and share my findings with others.

Firstly, I’ll cover what I found out about vinyl recycling in the sense of converting it to reusable materials. After that I’ll quickly cover two alternatives, namely upcycling and reselling.


Recycling – Reusable Materials

It is actually possible to convert vinyl records to reusable materials, but there are some downsides with this. Vinyl records consist of a bunch of materials and one thing most, if not all, of them contain is PVC or polyvinyl chloride.

The problems actually start with PVC, because it’s really hard to recycle. This is because it’s full of poisonous chlorine gas and heavy metals like nickel or silver. This makes it difficult to properly extract anything useful from it, because it heavily complicates the process due to safety, health and environmental regulations. We really want to keep this materials out of the waste stream.

However, some recyclers are willing to handle PVC. They mainly reprocess it by pulverizing it to a dust and using this in construction materials. But sadly, it isn’t very commonly done with vinyl records as far as I’ve been able to find out.

So, it looks like recycling records into reusable materials is out of the question, due to the problematic chemical composition. But there are alternatives to this.


Upcycling – Reusing

The first alternative to recycling for materials is upcycling. The purpose of upcycling is repurposing discarded items into a new product of potentially higher value.

Now this is very applicable to vinyl records, mainly because of their sturdiness and useful disc shape. With just a small amount of creativity and handiness your discarded records can become essential components of amazing new products.

An example of this could be something as simple as a serving platter for cocktails, or whatever. Something more elaborate could be a clock on the wall. But your creativity is the limit here. You could make your entire furniture consist of upcycled vinyl products. You do you!


Re-selling / Re-gifting

The final alternative I find to be worth mentioning is re-selling or re-gifting. You might have lost your appreciation of one of your records, but someone else might still consider it very valuable.

There are many stores all around the world that make a business out of reselling records that are unwanted by their owners. Now you can take your otherwise to be discarded records to them to make an extra buck. Or you could do what they’re doing and find interested people yourself. This probably won’t make you rich, unless you have a really special one, but it will leave you with some extra cash.

Occasionally these can also be the perfect gift for someone. If you happen to know one of your friends love a specific band and you happen to have a record from them you don’t use, just gift it. I consider this the most wholesome solution.


Conclusion – Are Vinyl Records Recyclable

So, vinyl records are terrible to convert into reusable materials because of their chemical composition. They are however perfect for upcycling, to be re-used as components for completely new products. Finally you can always sell them or gift them to people who can appreciate them more.

I hope that was helpful. If you liked the way I write then please take a look at my other educational articles about record players and vinyl. I’ve also written some reviews & top lists on affordable record players on Amazon. You can check those out and if you decide to buy anything through those links I’d get a commission from Amazon.


References

  1. Matt Davenport (June 13, 2016), Groovy chemistry: The materials science behind records, from https://cen.acs.org/
  2. Sophia Benett (June 19, 2014), Recycle Nation, from https://recyclenation.com/

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