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Record Label BIS Goes Green (You Had Me at "Turtles")

The Swedish record lable BIS, known for its pioneering work in publishing the complete works of Jean Sibelius, dedication to the SACD format, and home to the superb Bach Cantata Cycle under Masaaki Suzuki's, is now setting an example of ecologically conscious CD packaging. Later this month, a press release announced, the label's owner Robert von Bahr will release a Super Audio Compact Disc in an 'ecopak', a 100% recyclable sleeve made of certified cardboard, printed on with soy ink, gummed up eco-friendly glue and water-based varnish. Once they are through their inventory, all of BIS' recordings will use the new sleeves.

available at Amazon
Alan Hovhaness, And God Created Great Whales, Concerto No. 8 for Orchestra, Anahid et al.
D.Amos, Philharmonia Orchestra
Cyrstal Records

In tune with the Zeitgeist, Bahr comments: “The use of plastic is doing enormous harm to the environment. No one can walk away from the pictures of whales, fish and turtles full of plastic without feeling horror.”

While it is safe to say that no BIS jewel-case has ever come in contact with a whale (the products have a considerable longevity and literal shelf life and are consumed in countries with robust recycling and garbage incinerator systems), there is something to be said for the symbolism of reducing the use of plastic and, down the line, potential waste. Aside there is a genuinely green aspect, after all: Although the sleeves cost about 20 percent more to make than a standard plastic CD jewel box, it weighs a third less. This reduces the energy used to ship the product and therefore transport costs, showing that good economic sense is usually also environmentally sound. Naturally, in this day and age, this is marketed in pseudo-scientific bright green colors as "reducing the carbon emissions associated with transport costs..." (surely "carbon dioxide emissions"?), underplaying the perfectly sound and actually ecolocial and economical energy-savings.

"Von Bahr is taking the loss", suggestes the press release, quoting the man himself: “If this helps the recording business move away from plastic packaging in favour of more ecological alternatives, I will be happy,” says the veteran record industry executive. "I have rarely been so inspired by anything. Everything about this is right - the need, the timing and the solution". Admirable, indeed, and with any luck, the public relations side-effect might even make up for some the projected losses when the sales of BIS’ first ecopak, namely a SACD of the Dutch composer Joel Bons' 2019 Music Composition Grawemeyer Award winning work 'Nomaden' - go through the roof. Whales, fish, turtles and consumers are cheering him on.

Recommended listening to reading this item is, quite naturally, Alan Hovhaness' "And God Created Great Whales" from 1970, for orchestra and the taped songs of whales (including humpback [timpani], bowhead [strings], and killer whales [sopranos]). Alas, not available on BIS records.

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