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Japan plastics firm rocks out for environment with new 100% biodegradable guitar picks

The 100% biodegradable resin guitar pick Zero is pictured at Nishibata Blow Industry Co. in the city of Fukui. (Mainichi)

FUKUI -- A plastics maker here has developed a completely biodegradable guitar pick to raise awareness about environmental issues, particularly plastic waste.

    The "Zero" pick created by Nishibata Blow Industry Co. in the city of Fukui is also extremely durable despite not being made of the usual plastics, which do not break down naturally after disposal. The development team included members of a rock band at the company, who made sure the green picks also produced a good sound.

    Nishibata teamed up with biodegradable resin firm Neqas Co. in Awara, Fukui Prefecture, on the project. The result was a guitar pick made entirely from plant-based resin. According to a Nishibata representative, they believe the Zero is the world's first guitar pick made from this resin.

    Guitarist Yusuke Takeuchi, 41, formed a rock band at Nishibata about seven years ago, and they had been active ever since. Members include the firm's president, administrative workers, department heads and section heads. They practice in the company cafeteria, and perform at local festivals and other events. They've also produced PR videos for Nishibata and posted them to YouTube.

    The coronavirus crisis, however, forced the band to halt all its activities. It was at that moment that Takeuchi, looking at the pick in his fingers as he practiced playing, came up with the idea to develop the Zero, he says.

    "We have to get information out about the environment, especially as a company that deals with plastics," Takeuchi tells the Mainichi Shimbun. "I want to aim for a sustainable society through music."

    The band members tried out every iteration of the pick, paying close attention to the shape and to the resin material, which tends to be harder than plastic and thus more difficult to play with. After much trial and error, they came up with a pick that even buyers said produced a "good, fine-grained sound," and instrument giant Schecter Guitar Research has ordered a production run.

    The picks can be purchased at Nishibata's Rakuten online shopping page and other outlets starting at 400 yen (about $3.20) for three.

    (Japanese original by Chika Yokomi, Osaka Bureau)

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