1995, May

Environmentalists are winning the CD wars. The first battle was over the "longbox," a thoroughly wasteful piece of cardboard and plastic packaging designed to deter theft, display graphics and make the CD more visible in music store bins originally Packaging company Ivy Hill has cut down on plastic with its "FLP" (for "flip") design--a length of recycled paperboard that folds over to surround a recycled plastic CD tray, held together by a recycled plastic flip-bar. Graphics are printed direct ly on the paperboard, instead of in booklets that have to be displayed in clear (and therefore virgin) plastic jewel boxes. Putumayo, a New York-based clothing, craft and music company, has gone in a similar direction. "The answer for a more environmentally friendly CD," says president Dan Storper, "lies in getting away from plastic and finding something that is strong and looks appealing." The "Digi-Pak" Putumayo is using has a design similar to the FLP, but the CD tray is the only plastic part. Putumayo buys its Digi-Paks from Chicago-based AGI, suppliers to 50 different companies. "Recording artists are less and less satisfied with the jewel box," says AGI President Richard Block, citing the group Pearl Jam, which demanded--and got--a no -plastic Digi-Pak for its latest CD. (It has since sold two million copies.) Eliminating plastic and non-recycled materials is not always easy, says Jeff Charno of Long Island's Ellipsis Arts. "There are certain materials that can't he made from recyclables without going crazy," he says. Ellipsis, which specializes in world music compilations, uses a mix of Digi-Paks and jewel boxes, relying on recyclables "whenever possible." New Age-oriented Celestial Harmonies of Tuscon, Arizona favors two leaner plastic designs from Europe: the "duobox" and the "slim-line." The duo-box improves on earlier two-disc cases, putting both discs in the space of one jewel box. The slim-line , for single discs, is only half the width of the jewel box, and two-thirds the weight. Lighter and slimmer than any of these is the Jewel-Box-Be-Gone cover from Cadence Jazz Records of Redwood, New York. A simple soft plastic (no recycled content) sleeve, the Jewel-Box-Be-Gone is slimness personified. Instead of a CD tray, there are pockets. Cadence has sold over 300,000 of the covers at 15 cents each. With all these alternatives, why does the jewel box still dominate at the music stores? "Jewel boxes caught on too fast to go away now," says Charno. Or not, at least, until artists, companies and consumers decide their time is past. 

source: Greening the CD. By: Reitzes, Adam, Motavalli, Jim, E: The Environmental Magazine, May/Jun 1995, Vol. 6, Issue 3