While CDs don't have a stranglehold on the consumer market that they once did, there have been a lot of positive changes in the world of Compact Discs over the last few years. Most notable among them is how much more eco-friendly they have become as a retail product.
The easiest place to start is with the packaging of the discs. For years the Jewel Case was the standard for packaging solution which was completely comprised of plastic. As if the all-plastic construction wasn't bad enough, it was a type of plastic that wasn't accepted in most community-based recycling programs. That left little alternative but to throw the cases into the garbage to wind up in landfills.
In time 'green' solutions were developed that first reduced and then eliminated plastic from the packaging altogether. The first of these packaging alternatives was the Digipak, which had the form and function of the Digipak, and was constructed with a plastic tray glued into the unit to hold the disc. The construction of the 'case' itself was made from printed paperboard (also commonly referred to as cardboard) which is a completely recyclable substrate.
It was this more environmentally responsible CD packaging product that single-handedly launched the wave of eco-interest that subsequently hit the CD Duplication industry. If the Digipak was considered to be a good thing on an eco-friendly basis, then the Eco Sleeve style products would certainly be considered to be a great thing, as they were completely plastic-free.
The fundamental difference between the Eco Sleeve and the Digipak, is that the Eco Sleeve uses either a pocket or a slit to hold the disc, instead of a plastic tray. As with Digipaks, the Eco Sleeve products could be designed to suit a wide variety of uses, including having multi-panel and multi-disc capabilities.
The substrates used to print the Digipak and Eco Sleeves have also been transformed through using raw materials that are sustainably forested, as well as utilizing more and more recycled content in the production of the blank sheet stock. Now, the amount of 'green' content in the paperboard products is a significant selling feature as people want to save trees and be as environmentally responsible as possible.
Another excellent CD duplication industry advancement for the 'green' cause was reducing the minimum order quantity requirements for their replicated discs. Less manufacturing means less consumption and, in turn, leads to less waste. Originally you could order no less than 1,000 units of any one title, but in time the minimum order requirement was dropped to 500. Today it's quite common to find minimum order requirements of only 300 units.
The digital printing revolution has also proven to be a huge boost to the CD duplication industry and eco-friendly cause. As a more computerized process it is far cleaner and eliminates a lot of chemicals and waste that are inherent to traditional offset printing presses. In addition, digital printing technology allows for much smaller print runs due to the elimination of the various set-up requirements necessary for offset printing.