Does an impalpable support pollute more than one physical? It seems impossible but in reality it can really be like that.
The two researchers Sharon George and Deirdre McKay of Keele University have written a long article on the BBC website which confirms it.
In fact, all the files that are listened to in streaming, downloaded, etc. They have physical support: the data center or the servers on which they are "parked". These, with their energy consumption are more impacting on the environment than the classic physical formats.
Starting from the raw materials logically, liquid music immediately takes the lead, but already to produce a vinyl we need 135 grams of PVC, whose production requires an emission of 0.5 kg of carbon dioxide. Multiplying this value to the 4.1 million vinyl records sold annually in the United Kingdom, we get almost 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the price produced by 400 people in a year.
With CDs the situation improves, because using the polycarbonate and aluminum mix of which the media are made decreases the carbon dioxide emission of 0.1 / 0.3 kg compared to vinyls. But vinyls are 100% recyclable, while the composite material of CDs is difficult to recover. Overall, therefore, vinyl wins between the two, because compared to a slightly higher production of Co2 is completely recyclable.
Listening instreaming instead has an impact, difficult to quantify as it involves different parameters. The tracks are in fact stored in huge data centers around the world, which consume very large amounts of electricity because they work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week producing heat, whose dissipation requires the use of other electricity for the systems of cooling down. All this obviously did not exist when there were vinyl or CDs were used, so their impact is new, and generated precisely by the increase in the consumption of music in streaming.
The traces are also transmitted through the network and lastly via WiFi or 4G to the various devices that, in turn, frequently used must be recharged more often, absorbing more energy, even if this aspect affects very little on the total since to listen to CDs and vinyl you must still use the HiFi system.
Everything would need serious research and study, but the two researchers opened a reflection on a problem that probably nobody had yet recognized.