The world’s largest maker of instrument strings and accessories is showing that a small act can make a huge change in the world.
D’Addario & Company is a family-owned and operated business that has been making strings for instruments since the 1600s starting off in Italy and then making its way to New York City.
The family settled in Astoria and started making strings out of their garage, and as the years went by, continued to provide strings for instruments and in the 1950s even played an essential role in popularizing electric strings.
In 1970, Jim D’Addario — who is currently still the CEO of the company — launched D’Addario & Company operating a facility in Farmingdale, Long Island and also operating an office in Brooklyn.
The company continues to create strings for instruments but now also makes other accessories for other kinds of instruments such as drum sticks, reeds for saxophones and clarinets, and much more.
“Our brand purpose is to inspire performance and we kind of live that mantra in providing products for musicians to raise their level of performance,” D’Addario said.
Now, the company has launched the first-ever instrument string recycling program called Playback in partnership with the company TerraCycle — which collects and repurposes hard-to-recycle products such as chip bags and cigarette butts.
D’Addario added that the new recycling program is a continuation of the company’s commitment to being an environmental leader in the music industry. Since the 1990s the company has seen a 75 percent reduction in packaging waste.
“It goes back to one of our core values,” D’Addario said. “I’m very excited about it because it’s something I really wanted to see years and years ago and it wasn’t really possible.”
Through the recycling program individuals will be able to give in their old strings and TerraCycle will then go through the proper methods of recycling the string.
According to Brian Vance, senior product manager at D’Addario & Company, currently municipal recycling companies do not accept instrument strings because of all the materials that make up the string such as copper, alloy, nicked, steel and more.
“It can be complicated even though a string seems kind of simple,” Vance said. “It’s a lot of work and effort to separate those metals.”
TerraCycle will work to find economical viable ways to recycle the material, and Vance added that D’Addario is also in talks with TerraCycle to see if the material can be turned into products that can be used by musicians.
In order for someone to participate, all they must do is sign up for an account on the Playback program website, download a shipping label, save up as many strings as they can, box them up and ship them with no charge.
“We really don’t know how many strings are out there. It could be about a billions pounds of string that could be put into landfill out there,” Vance said. “It’s scary.”
Whoever recycles the strings can then decided to sign up for a loyalty product which will trade them new strings or other gear for the old strings; or take credit gained from recycling the strings and donate them to the nonprofit D’Addario Foundation.
To celebrate the launch of the Playback program together with International Guitar Month and Earth Day, in April D’Addario is sponsoring 40 Recycle and Restring events around the country.
During the events — which are free and open to the public — musicians are asked to bring in their old string to participating shops to have them recycled and in return have new strings put onto their instruments.
In New York City, one of the participating stores is Brooklyn’s Main Drag Music, located at 330 Wythe Ave.
Specific dates for each dealer is expected to be announced soon.