Remember that guitar string that lost its tone and you tossed out? Chances are you toss a few of those out a year, maybe even more. Other musicians do too. As many as 500 million individual strings manufactured and consumed each year could equate to 1.5 million pounds of waste, according to ballpark estimates by D’Addario. That’s a lot of trash.
D’Addario and TerraCycle, a global recycling organization, want to reduce that number and make music a little greener in the process. Together the two are creating Playback, an instrument string-recycling program.
“Our mission is to turn as much of that into reusable raw materials and as many upcycled products as possible,” said Brance Vance, senior product manager at D’Addario.
Municipal recycling systems do not accept instrument strings in part because of a lack of awareness that the strings are recyclable, but also because the way the string is constructed and manufactured doesn’t allow for easy separation of the materials.
With Playback D’Addario and TerraCycle created a safe and independent way to recycle and upcycle instrument strings. Participating locations around the US, a full list of which is available on the Playback website, and D’Addario will reward players for recycling their strings with reward points that can be redeemed for new sets of strings, picks, gear and other accessories.
“In many ways, this program speaks to D’Addario’s commitment, not only to its loyal players and social responsibility, but also to its mission of building an ongoing, self-perpetuating cycle of music,” said company CEO Jim D’Addario.
Currently recycled strings will be melted and transformed into a common-use alloy that will be put back into the raw materials stream. But TerraCycle and D’Addario are working to develop uses for the materials and will “upcycle” a portion of them into functional, musician-oriented products.
Maybe one day that old string will be a part of your next instrument.