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Certainly, going digital is the right green thing to do… now we have some proof

August 23rd, 2009 · Leave a Comment

On August 17th, a new study (Christopher L. Weber, Jonathan G. Koomey, and H. Scott Matthews) was released called “The Energy and Climate Change Impacts of Different Music Delivery Methods.”  While we might all agree that the conclusion that going digital reduces your carbon footprint is rather obvious, it’s worth a moment to read the study to better understand the many components of the traditional CD manufacturing and delivery processes that add up to the larger carbon footprint of this now fading music format.

This study assesses the energy and CO2 emissions associated with several alternative methods for delivering one album of music to a final customer, either via traditional retail or e-commerce sales of compact discs or via a digital download service. We analyze a set of six (3 compact disc and 3 digital download) scenarios of the delivery of one music album from the recording stage to the consumer’s home in either CD or digital form. The scenarios were:

  1. Album published on CD and delivered via traditional retail methods
  2. Album published on CD and delivered by light-duty truck through an online e-tail provider
  3. Album published on CD and delivered by express air through an online e-tail provider
  4. Album downloaded as mp3/mp4 files from an online music service and used digitally
  5. Album downloaded as mp3/mp4 files from an online music service and burned to CD-R for digital and CD use (no CD packaging)
  6. Album downloaded as mp3/mp4 files from an online music service and burned to CD-R for digital and CD use, stored in individual CD packaging, i.e., slimline jewel cases

The study was produced with grants from Microsoft Corporation and Intel Corporation.  The full 30-page report is available for download from the Intel pressroom.

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