How can pens and pencils be recycled? What are some ways to reduce and reuse writing tools? Let's learn about all the ways we can help the planet by eliminating unnecessary waste!
How to Recycle Pens
In order to recycle pens, they must be separated into their different parts. That's because not all plastics are recyclable. Pens are primarily made up of two different types of plastic: polystyrene (PS) and polypropylene (PP). Polystyrene is used to make the barrel of a pen, whereas the ink tubes and pen caps are made from polypropylene.
Both polystyrene and polypropylene can be recycled. Many local recycling plants, however, won't accept them. This is because the plant would lose money transferring the plastics to other facilities, or their facility simply doesn't have the equipment to separate and clean the items.
If you want to recycle your pens, you'll have to find a facility near you that accepts them first. Once you've found a place, you'll want to check their minimum requirements and ask if you have to separate the pens before you drop them off. Most places will disassemble the pens for you! In general, it's best to have a lot of pens because they're small, and the pieces become even smaller once they're broken down into their separate parts. Small pieces are hard to process and recycle when they aren't in large quantities. Don't have any recycling plants near you? Try purchasing refillable pens or eco-friendly pens that are made out of biodegradable or recycled material. They're better for the environment than disposable pens and contribute to making the Earth a little greener.
Once you've dropped off your pens, they will be separated, cleaned, and shredded. After the plastic is broken into smaller pieces, it can be molded into a variety of new products. Who knows, maybe your pens will be transformed into that new slide your child loves at the playground or the lawn chair you enjoy sitting in!
If you don't have enough pens to meet their requirements, ask your friends, family, and co-workers to clean out their stash of pens or have a pen-recycling party. You can even call your local schools or ask your child's teacher if they would like to contribute to your efforts.
Check out more ways to get rid of your unused or dried up pens instead of throwing them out:
Host a Pen Recycling Party
Bring Them to a Facility that Accepts Pens
Recycle the Caps, Barrels, Ink Tubes Separately
Make a Lamp Shade
Use Empty Barrels to Carry Sewing Needles
How to Recycle Pencils
Just like pens, pencils aren't easy to recycle, despite being made out of recyclable materials. That's because when pencils are made, the wood is treated, processed, and painted multiple times. After this process, the wood is no longer recyclable. Since most wood that's recycled is broken down, burned, made into mulch, or used for composting, treated and processed wood wouldn't break down or deteriorate from being over-processed.
Although the wood in a pencil isn't recyclable, there are still many ways for them to stay out of landfills. One way is by using up every possible inch of the pencil. Unlike pens, pencils get shorter the more you use them because they need to be sharpened. By using up the majority, you're making sure perfectly useful pencils don't wind up in the trash.
The most recyclable piece of a pencil is the ferrule, or the little metal piece that holds the eraser in place. Depending on the pencil, the ferrule can be made from either copper or aluminum. Both of these metals are easily recyclable, in large quantities of course. Ferrules are far too tiny to be recycled one at a time. In order to recycle the ferrules, it's best to call a facility that will recycle aluminum or copper and ask how much of them you'd need to drop off.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace or a fire pit in your backyard, gather up pencil stubs and use them for kindling. You can also try purchasing eco-friendly pencils that were made from recycled materials. There are even pencils that can be planted after they're done being used. Everyone would be amazed to hear that your new basil plant or tree started out as a pencil!
Look at the ways you can use pencils that are better for the environment:
Using for Kindling Fire
Use Pencil Shavings for Garden Mulch
Buy Pencils that You Can Plant
Build a Birdhouse