How To: Recycle Pens, Markers, and Highlighters

Pens, markers, mechanical pencils and highlighters are a tricky object to recycle. Constructed out of many different parts, they can't be tossing in the regular recycling. And with a classroom full of kids, you might see these items piling up! Thankfully they don't have to be doomed to the landfill. We have two ideas for what you can do with writing utensils who's ink has expired: 


1. Recycling at Staples

Staples has partered with TerraCycle to recycle used pens, markers, sharpies, highlighters and mechanical pencils. Bring your collection into a Staples, and they'll begin the recycling process. First, the writing instruments are separated by material composition. The separated items are then cleaned and shredded. Finally, they are made into new recycled products. If there is not a Staples close to where you live, consider getting the whole school involved, and when someone takes a trip out of town to where a Staples is, they can bring the collection with them. Check out their website for more infomation!


2. Recycling with Crayola

Crayola gives another option for marker recycling. Become a a ColorCycle Champion, and Crayola will pay for you to ship in your used markers to their facilities to be recycled - and the markers don't have to be Crayola branded either! They also accept dry erase markers and highlighters. This program is only available in parts of BC at the moment, but you can look up your postal code to see if your area is eligable!


When your school starts recycling your pens, be sure to share your story as a BC Green Games project!

Need some inspiration on how to get your school excited about recycling pens? Check out the work done by the Strathcona Stars. They involved their whole community in their pen collection drive, and won a $1000 Green Grant for their efforts!


This activity has strong connections to the Big Ideas in Social Studies.