How to recycle old pens

Zero hero Sandy has been chewing on the end of her pen trying to come up with a solution to her conundrum.

She wrote: “What do I do with the “expired” biros and felt tip pens I came across? Can anyone think of a brilliant way to reuse them?”

As ever I reached out to our wonderful community of Zero heroes to see what they had to say.

Here are some of their ideas on how to recycle old pens:


Naveed wrote “She can send it to Terracycle who will recycle it for her. Our office stationary is all collected from our offices and sent to terracycle.”

Give them up!

Naveed also shared “A better option would be to use a refillable fountain pen using ink from a glass jar. Also instead of using highlighters, she can use coloured (unpainted) pencils to underline and the shavings can be composted. ”


Jane suggested “Pens could be used as markers for seeds planted in the garden, or poked in the ground to stop cats digging up newly planted seeds.  However, I would be concerned about the plastic starting to break up and contaminating the soil.” She also added ” I think we need to be careful in thinking up ways to reuse pens – or any other rubbish for that matter – to be sure that we are thinking up something that is genuinely useful, and not just an excuse to stock pile rubbish. ”

Lyn added “Greenhouse dibbers for seeds?


Nicky suggested “You can ‘regenerate’ felt tip pens by taking the filling out (you can usually open the pens at the bottom) and putting those in a glass of water with the top up. The water will push all the remaining ink upwards and the felt tip pen will write again Might work for other pens too!

The Pen Guy

I came across the Pen Guy; which, for those of you living across the pond, could be the solution you are looking for! The Pen Guy hopes to collect over a million used pens to design recycled pen art. You can send your old outworn pens to him.

One for the kids

Self confessed kid-at-heart Lyn suggested “Bit bonkers but fun – garden sprinkler: drill hole in large plastic bottle, insert empty pen shafts, attach hose to bottle. Or how about peashooters?!

What about you – do you have any arty or intriguing ways to recycle old pens and biros?

Posted in

Rachelle Strauss


  1. jessica on April 26, 2016 at 8:42 am

    many pens are made of plastic . if you burn them = air pollution if you throw them = soil/land pollution

    best way = recycle but how do you recycle plastic pens ?????
    please answer.

    need to get rid of all this waste.

  2. Kicia on April 29, 2016 at 11:16 am

    There is an important issue with leftover ink in pens. No pen ever is completely empty when binned, and inks in them often contain harmful chemicals. It’s been bugging me lately too. If you have good ideas let me know. But at this point upcycling seems the best.

    • Mr L on September 19, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Search terracycle to see if there is a pen recycling brigade near where you live

  3. Dan Minnich on December 27, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    I have tried shipping used pens and pencils to Africa, and they came back to me after 6 months. It looked like they tried dropping them off at the designated address numberous times. I paid $80.00, and was disappointed to see them returned to me. I still have the unopened box. Where can I drop them off, or mail them within the United States?

    • Rachelle Strauss on December 27, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Dan, that’s frustrating for you. Why not get in contact with Terracycle and see if they can help you?

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