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String Recycling Questionnaire

Discussion in 'Strings [BG]' started by St_Lewys, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. St_Lewys


    Apr 15, 2012
    Hello all,

    For my dissertation I'm investigating whether or not a company that collects and recycles strings can be economically viable.

    As part of the research I have made a questionnaire and it would be BRILLIANT if I can get a fair few of you to participate. It will literally only take 2 minutes of your time


    Many thanks!

    P.S. A drummer friend of mine keeps saying that the drumming community is "much more friendly and helpful" than the other musician communities. HELP ME PROVE HIM WRONG!
  2. Hi Lewys.

    Filled the form.

    There are several non-profit musicians aiding musicians organizations in the developed countries that collect used electric instrument strings and send them to the parts of our world where metal strings are either unavailable or financially challenging to obtain.

    I looked into doing the same when I first found out about it, but my brief study proved it to be impossible. At least over here.
    I wasn't looking for profit, but not a significant loss either.
    IOW, I was willing do the sorting and to pay the postage to the destination country only, not the postage to me, nor any compensation for the strings.

    When it comes down to recycling, people are way too worried that someone turns their waste into profit, so even though we Finns are world pioneers/leaders in organized recycling in many fields (paper, bottles, cars etc.) privately done recycling of any kind is met with unbelievable suspicion and jeaolosy.

    Good luck, I hope You find it more feasible than I did.

  3. .
  4. St_Lewys


    Apr 15, 2012
    Hi Sam, thanks for the reply! And thanks OzzyGreg for doing it :)

    Yeah I'm slowly finding out that it's a very difficult enterprise to make economically viable, though for my project's purposes, finding out that fact is all I need!

    Still, it's quite an interesting subject. Considering most of the people who have done the questionnaire so far do throw their strings away in household waste, there must be so much nickel/stainless steel being wasted in landfills!
  5. JwLipsey


    Dec 1, 2011
    Tampa, FL
    Hi, Lewys.

    Completed the survey.

    I thought the last question ended with a twist. I've never recycled with the intent to receive any sort of reward, if by 'reward' you mean a financial one.

    Your survey has prompted me to inquire about locally available sources for recycling old strings, though. I just assumed nobody does.

    Although, in view of a previous reply, I suppose I'd be willing to mail them to a specialty recycling service, or charitable organization without compensation, if I knew of one.

    All the best on your dissertation.

  6. St_Lewys


    Apr 15, 2012
    Thanks Jim!

    Yeah the initial idea I had is to offer a free set of strings after you have donated enough (reached a certain weight).

    My research has shown that there are still people not keen on recycling or find it as an inconvenience. Having an incentive is a way to encourage more people to get involved!
  7. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013

    I'd use a recycling service for strings even without promise of a reward, but in reality I wouldn't pay for the privilege either.

    I'm not sure I'd agree about the total volume in the waste stream tho. I'd guess there's a whole set of guitar strings in one 'tin' can.
  8. St_Lewys


    Apr 15, 2012
    Thanks! That's a fair point ArtechnikA. A whole 4 string set of Ernie Ball 45's only weigh 100g, and it's true that compared to how many tin cans the world has thrown away the amount of strings being thrown away is probably comparably smaller.

    The thing that made me think this is an interesting subject is we're throwing away Nickel. I found a stat which states that only 57% of all nickel used in manufacture is recycled. So the world's nickel resource must be depleting quite quickly.

    Now whether strings contain enough nickel to make this viable is another question, but it's still interesting to research it ;-)

    Can I ask though, you say you'd recycle them regardless, would you do so only if it was convenient or would you be happy to go out of your way?
  9. Spent


    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
  10. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains

    As would I, but it would depend how it was implemented. If I had to go to GC and be questioned every time I went to drop off a set of strings I probably wouldn't bother.
  11. tfernandez


    Jul 5, 2010
    Survey is done.

    As far as recycling programs go, I have a bookmark on my laptop for a school that takes used strings as donations to resupply the students due to lack of funds. I haven't sent strings out yet because I'd rather send a larger bulk box rather than just a few sets. However, that's the closest I have seen to a string recycling company
  12. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    It's different for everyone but I expect there's a tradeoff between cost and benefit as with most things.

    I'm not a pro, I don't have that many instruments, and I don't change strings that often. I don't frequent retail music shops.

    Strings are hard to recycle, since they're composed of many different metals (e.g. stainless, cobalt, nickel strings with brass ends).

    But your poll is not really about recycling, it's about reuse. When I finally change a string, it's not fully suitable for reuse, IMO.

    I might go "a bit" out of my way - but there's no free lunch if you factor the cost per mile of driving anywhere. Perhaps if a big corporate sponsor made available prepaid mailers for a batch of coiled strings it'd work. That would be a significant cost for the sponsor on its own and expecting new strings in return doesn't seem equitable.

    When you get down to it - the recycle/re-use concept is about materials transportation as much as anything.

    I get it that encouraging reuse is a win/win in deferring discard at the same time bringing music to the impoverished.

    But if that's the real goal, maybe the most efficient use of resources would be to convince string manufacturers (or private donors) to send spools of raw wire and a string-wrapping machine closer to the intended recipients and set up a small enterprise to manufacture strings locally.

    That's way outside the original charter of string re-use, but maybe it's a look at the bigger picture...
  13. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    The reward bit is a turn off. The only reason I would mail my strings away is if I knew they were going to a specific place or school, etc. when rewards are involved, community is lost.
  14. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    IMO it will only work if a postage paid envelope comes with the strings like printer cartridges (from HP) used to

    Lastly, I think this idea is unviable due to the costs involved in separating the materials for re-use
    These items are usually stainless over steel or nickel plated steel
    Many recycle places give you very little for copper wires due to the costs of removing the plastic jacket
  15. St_Lewys


    Apr 15, 2012
    Very interesting comments guys thanks!

    96Tbird's "reward being off putting" comment is not what I expected! haha. Bass players are a noble breed ;-)

    And Jim C, I'm almost sure you're right. There's a lot of complications I can see with it, but I'm hoping it'll all help me fill 8,000 words haha

    But as I said, thank you so so much for filling it out everyone. I shall be telling my drummer friend that he's wrong
  16. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    Survey is done...

    I would recycle them with or without the reward as long as it did not cost me in postage, or fuel to take them somewhere. I hate wasting the earth's resources.

    Having said that I cannot see there being enough demand at my local recycling centre to have a Musical Instrument Strings bin but bins at music shops might work. Supermarkets over here have bins for spent batteries (AA, AAA, 9v, etc) that fill up pretty quick.
  17. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Did the survey. Sent you a PM with a couple thoughts.
  18. Done.

    I play flats, so I keep the strings on my basses for years. When the time comes to change them, I keep the old strings as spares in case I should happen to break one while playing.
  19. GK Growl

    GK Growl Banned

    Dec 31, 2011
    Survey done.

    Interesting topic. I have a relative that makes jewelry out of old guitar/bass strings and she takes some of my used sets sometimes when the demand is there. I have (6) basses so I usually have quite a few old sets around and I sometimes have restrung basses for other who couldn't afford a new set or wanted a duller roundwound sound.
  20. Done. Very interesting concept

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