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Eco-Friendly Plastics from Plants

Helping the environment with Yamaha Ecodear® recorders.

Recorders are some of the most-played instruments in the world, and millions of students in countries all around the world play their first notes on a Yamaha recorder every year.

Yellow plastic pellets in a glass bowl.

Ecodear pellets before processing.

The vast majority of Yamaha recorders are made from ABS plastic, a very durable and safe material that has withstood the test of time. However, traditional plastics are made from petroleum oil, a resource that’s certainly seen its fair share of controversy over the years. What if there was a way to make a recorder with a plastic that didn’t use as much petroleum, but still sounded just as good?

Yamaha found the answer in Ecodear®, a special type of plastic that replaces some of the oil needed by normal plastics with resins extracted from corn and other plants. The result is a material that has about the same durability and characteristics of regular plastic, but one that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 20%.

How is that possible? Since plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air when they grow, the corn used to make Ecodear traps some of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, which in turn is then locked into the plastic itself. If a million recorders were made using Ecodear instead of regular plastic, the growing plants would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 230 tons, or the equivalent of a car driving around the earth 25 times!

Ecodear has another feature that’s especially beneficial for recorders: It’s a little more dense than ABS plastic, which changes the acoustic response of the recorder. This gives recorders made from Ecodear a more mellow and centered tone, with improved resistance and breath control. Many players feel that this makes Yamaha 400-series Ecodear recorders feel and sound much closer to an instrument made from wood … but with more durability and at a fraction of the price.

Ecodear® is a registered trademark of Toray Industries.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Kerns has been involved in school music for just about as long as he can remember. From the early days tagging along to his big sister’s marching band tournaments, he’s been a performer, an instructor, a salesperson and now a proud band parent. Matt heads up our band and orchestral accessories department – drawing from decades of knowledge and expertise on everything from mouthpiece tip openings to valve oil viscosities.

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