Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Billie Eilish has announced the details of what is likely to be one of 2024's biggest albums.

The star says her third record, Hit Me Hard And Soft, will be released on 17 May, with no singles in advance so that fans can hear it "all at once".

She also published a sustainability plan for the album, with the aim of minimising her environmental impact.

Vinyl copies will be pressed onto recycled or eco-vinyl, with all the packaging made from recycled materials.

Eilish will also use raw, plant-based ink and and water-based dispersion varnish. Instead of shrink-wrap, the album sleeves will be 100% recycled and re-usable.

The move comes amid a continuing boom in vinyl sales, with 5.9 million units sold in the UK alone last year.

But vinyl is made from plastic, which has a major environmental impact, and often comes packaged inside non-recyclable materials.

Researchers at Keele University estimate that vinyl records typically contain around 135g of PVC material with a carbon footprint of 0.5kg of Carbon Dioxide.

Based on that calculation, the UK's vinyl habit produced 2,700 tonnes of CO2, before taking transport and packaging into account. That is the entire footprint of almost 560 people per year.

Eilish, who is a long-standing climate campaigner, told Billboard magazine she felt compelled to tackle the problem.

"My parents have always kept me well informed and hyper aware that every choice we make and every action we take has an impact somewhere or on someone, good or bad, and that has always stuck with me," said the multiple Oscar and Grammy Award-winner.

"I can't just ignore what I know and go about my business and career and not do something. That's just not how I was raised, or how I want to live my life."


Greg Cochrane, who hosts the music and sustainability podcast Sounds Like a Plan, called the star's announcement a "significant step".

"We've seen examples of these type of releases before, but they've generally been limited releases or smaller batches, or from smaller artists," he told the BBC, "but a shift happens when an artist of Billie Eilish's popularity decides to adopt this - and not only adopt this, but also be transparent and vocal about her reasons for doing it."

He drew parallels between Eilish's plan and Coldplay's attempts to make touring more environmentally friendly.

"Like any community, music needs trailblazers and successful examples for others to follow. So it's really important that Billie and Coldplay and others are doing this while still creating music and experiences that people love."

Eilish's announcement comes after the star criticised artists who release multiple vinyl formats to boost album sales, calling the practise "really frustrating".

"We live in this day and age where, for some reason, it's very important to some artists to make all sorts of different vinyl and packaging," the 22-year-old said in an earlier interview with Billboard, "which ups the sales and ups the numbers and gets them more money."

After the singer's mother, Maggie Baird, interrupted to point out that multiple vinyl sales "counts toward number one albums", Eilish responded: "I can't even express to you how wasteful it is."

Even so, Eilish will release eight vinyl variants of Hit Me Hard And Soft. However, the artwork and track-listing will remain the same across every edition, suppressing the demand for multiple purchases.

The standard black variant will be made from 100% recycled black vinyl. The remaining seven coloured editions will be made from Eco-mix or BioVinyl.

Eco-mix is created by recycling the offcuts from other albums, no matter what colour was used. The process means that each disc will be unique.

Single LP colours will be made using BioVinyl - which replaces the petroleum used to manufacture Polyvinyl chloride with recycled cooking oil.

BioVinyl helps reduce carbon emissions by 90% compared to standard LPs while retaining the same audio quality.

In addition, Eilish will manufacture cassette casings using recycled materials, and her tour merchandise will be created from left-over stock, organic or recycled polyester or cotton and non-toxic dyes.

The singer told Billboard she hoped that other artists would "adopt the same practices, and they will eventually become standard. It really is as simple as that".