How to recycle a “writing instrument”

Users of the office supply superstore chain Staples may have noticed in the Company’s advertisements that it now accepts “writing instruments” for recycling. For such a progressive move GallonDaily cannot understand why Staples chose to use the archaic term “writing instrument”. So we investigated and found that Staples actually collects used pens and similar items for recycling. The actual list of writing items accepted for recycling at Staples stores is:

  • any brand of pens and pen caps
  • any brand of mechanical pencils
  • any brand of markers and marker caps
  • any brand of highlighters and highlighter caps
  • permanent markers and permanent marker caps

Way to go, Staples! And way to go, GallonDaily readers! Now is the time to take all those dead ballpoint and other pens that have been cluttering your drawers to a local Staples store for recycling.  For details, including a Staples store finder, visit

Other manufacturer and brandowner recycling initiatives put in place by the recycling company TerraCycle include:

  • cell phones
  • chocolate wrappers
  • cigarette waste
  • coffee bags
  • cookie and cracker wrappers
  • diaper packaging
  • digital cameras
  • drink pouches
  • inkjet cartridges
  • laptop computers
  • chocolate wrappers and personal care and beauty packaging through London Drugs stores
  • Nespresso® coffee capsules
  • sandwich bags
  • Schneiders® Lunchmate® packaging
  • TASSIMO® coffee, tea, espresso, milk and hot chocolate T DISCs

Some of these programs are better suited to points of bulk collection, such as schools and offices, but all are worth reviewing to see how waste recycling can be carried out. In most cases used items are returned by mail, with TerraCycle paying for the postage. Incentive points or charitable donations are associated with some of the programs.

For details on each of these recycling programs visit

One response

  1. Better yet… use pencils and fountain pens.

    I have not purchased a “writing instrument” in nearly ten years. But I have a variety of fountain pens that I regularly re-fill. I also use mechanical pencils and wooden pencils.

    The downside (there’s always one, no?) is that fountain pens require regular use and maintenance. They also cost more. But these are actually benefits, no?

    I have not discovered a truly re-usable alternative for felt-tip markers, but I do dip the ends of dead “sharpies” into india ink, and re-use them that way.

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