Four-year-old CDs rot owing to cheap cardboard sleeves

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

ONE OF Britain's largest compact disc manufacturers has admitted that many of the CD singles it produced over 12months from late 1988 will now be unplayable.

Dave Hawksworth, manufacturing manager at PDO Discs in Blackburn, which produces a quarter of all British-made CDs, said the company had been forced to repress some CD singles from master copies after customers had complained that their CDs had decayed. The surface of affected discs appears slightly tarnished, orange in colour instead of silver.

Mr Hawksworth said the problem was caused by poor-quality cardboard with a high sulphur content, used to make some sleeves. The inner metal layer of the CDs reacted with the sulphur in the card to produce silver sulphide deposits which made the discs slip.

David Wilson, marketing and services manager of PDO, said yesterday that on rare occasions an individual disc had manufacturing problems, such as picking up too little lacquer in its coating, which might accelerate decay. Once his company had identified the cardboard problem, it had set minimum requirements.

Mr Hawksworth said that if people owned singles that were going to decay, they would have done so by now. The problem came to light after one music fan found that almost half of the 1988 PDO singles he owned had decayed. He wrote to the company, which replaced his affected titles. After reports in the late 1980s that CDs could deteriorate, particularly if exposed to extremes of heat, the industry stopped marketing them as 'lasting a lifetime'. Mr Hawksworth was confident that CDs would last at least 10 years. Mr Barber remains sceptical: 'They keep saying these problems are affecting individual discs, but I've got so many now. Some of my discs are breaking up . . .'

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