Skip to content

ReTune, Reuse, Recycle: Instrument Recycling for Music Hubs

3rd July 2024

ReTune Normans Education. Four images of various instruments ready for recycling.

As part of our This Is Not A Rehearsal campaign to encourage action around the climate crisis in the music education sector, we spoke to Nick Walker from Normans Education to learn more about their bespoke instrument recycling scheme for Music Hubs, ReTune. Read on to learn more about how the programme works, and how your hub can get involved!


Could you give us an overview of the ReTune scheme?

ReTune is a musical instrument recycling programme for regional Music Hubs. We invite Music Services around the UK to recycle their old unused instruments, where we collect them free of charge, and following assessment, either repair, donate, auction, or responsibly recycle them with a zero-landfill guarantee.


Why have Normans created ReTune?

After communicating with, and, providing musical instruments to Music Services and education for over 60 years, the one issue regularly raised was the vast amount of instruments sat in storage that have met their Finale. These instruments are not financially viable to repair but is difficult and costly for Music Hubs to dispose of them responsibly. Our ReTune Scheme gives Hubs the ability to relieve the pressure of bloated storage, while also supporting the future of music education and the planet, something that is core to our business. We want to support Hubs and Schools to alleviate storage challenges, whilst also helping them reach their own sustainability targets.


How does ReTune benefit the environment?

ReTune benefits the environment by making sure instruments beyond use or repair are recycled responsibly and sustainably. This initiative protects our environment by guaranteeing that NO instrument, accessory, or case will end up in landfill. We make sure everything collected results in the most environmentally friendly outcome. This may be a quick repair for the instrument to be repurposed, gifted to organisations (local bands, schools, musical charities etc.), or auctioned, with any surplus generated donated to our partner Earthly.

If instruments are beyond economical repair, they are recycled in a variety of ways depending on the material. For example, wood is broken down to make reformed material such as MDF, helping prevent further deforestation. Brass is fully recycled, and you never know… may be a trumpet again one day soon! Other materials are shredded into SRF & RDF (solid and derived fuels) for use as a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.


Have there been any challenges involved in setting it up?

We have had a few small challenges being the first musical instrument retailer to offer such a bespoke and forward-thinking service. Finding the right recycling partner was critical, as we wanted to partner with a business who shared our dedication to environmental responsibility. Luckily, they were right on our doorstep! Willshee’s have been amazing and invited me for an in-depth tour and demonstration of their site, which you can read more about here.

The logistics of the initiative was also a factor that needed serious consideration; we now plan collections in clusters, and in conjunction with deliveries, to minimise fuel emissions, ensuring the scheme stays as environmentally friendly as possible. Another challenge has been taking the time to train the wider Normans Team to assist in instrument assessments, and then build this process into our business structure. It has all been worth it though as the popularity of ReTune with UK Music Services has been amazing… and overwhelming! Within the first 6 months since the launch, we have collected over 1000 instruments!


Why and how should Music Hubs and Services get involved?

Music Hubs……we’re in this together! I have seen first-hand the issues with instruments at the end of their life and the storage challenges this gives Music Services. By refurbishing and reusing, we can significantly reduce the waste and environmental footprint associated when disposing of musical instruments. Music Hubs can play a pivotal role in promoting sustainability within the Music Education sector, setting a positive example for students and the community.

It was our vision to simply help ease this burden, while at the same time put everything possible back into both Music Education, and the environment. We’ve also received interest from schools with unwanted instruments in their storerooms. To minimise the carbon footprint associated with multiple trips, we encourage Hubs to coordinate with their schools to become centralised collection points, allowing us to make bulk collections more efficiently.

Let us help you, to help others.

Click here for full details and registration for the ReTune programme.

This Is Not A Rehearsal logo

Don’t forget to visit the This Is Not A Rehearsal webpage to explore more news, training & events, resources and research to support you on your sustainability journey. If you’d like to stay up to date with training and resources related to the climate crisis within the music education sector, click here to sign up for our ‘This Is Not A Rehearsal’ monthly newsletter.