How to Recycle Markers & Pens? – 7 Ways to Recycle Better

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to recycle markers & pens

Recycling markers and pens is a good way to reduce the amount of waste that is produced every day. Markers and pens are made from toxic materials, and they take up a lot of space in landfills.

By making them reusable, you can keep valuable resources out of the garbage bin. So, how to recycle markers & pens? You can exchange, donate, or send them to recycling programs. Read until the end for details of all the methods!

Methods for Recycling Pens and Markers

1. Pen Recycling

 01 Swap Your Pens For Other Items


A pen-swapping party is like other exchanging parties, but with pens. You can arrange your own or look for one to attend. There, you can trade your pens for other items, giving your drawing tools a new life somewhere that’s not the landfill.

This is a great way to recycle pens you no longer need. Aside from reducing waste, you can also help others get the art materials they want and meet and connect with new people.

 02 Donate to Pen Guy Art


The Pen Guy, whose real name is Costas Schuler, accepts donations of unwanted pens to use for his art pieces. One of his most notable works is The Mercedes Art Car. It is an 81 Mercedes 300SD that’s been fully customized using over 10,000 donated recycled pens.

Schuler takes donations of all types of pens (felt tip pens, gel pens, ballpoint pens, etc.) You just need to pack them in a box or an envelope and mail them to him. Send as many as you would like as well.

 03 Donate to Nonprofits


Find a nonprofit that accepts pens as donations. You can broaden your scope to organizations that welcome school and art supplies as well, since they often have recycling programs for writing and drawing tools.

Some organizations worth keeping in mind are SCARCE, Kids In Need Foundation, Pens For Kids UK, and Develop Africa.

You can donate pens and pencils, plus other writing supplies such as markers, crayons, etc.

 04 Send Your Pens To Terracycle


Terracycle is a company that “recycles the unrecyclable.” For recycling old pens, if offers:

    • The BIC Stationery Free Recycling Program
    • The Dixon Classroom Free Recycling Program

All these programs are free of charge. If your donation shipment is over 10 pounds, you can earn 50 or 100 TerraCycle points per pound. The points can be redeemed for a donation to a school, charity, or nonprofit of your choice.

There are only a few steps you need to take:

    1. Register for a TerraCycle account.
    2. Choose the program you want to join.
    3. Pack your pens in any box.
    4. Download and print out the prepaid shipping label.
    5. Seal and send your box of pens to the program for recycling.

TerraCycle also has a network of drop-off points, which you can head to for donations. For more information on TerraCycle recycle pens drop off, check out this page.

2. Markers Recycling

 01 Donate to the WasteShed


The WasteShed is committed to serving the creative and educational communities in Chicago. It is supported by the Chicago Community Trusts’ Young Leaders Fund, the Field Foundation, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, to name a few, but you can support it too.

Pack your markers and other arts and crafts supplies in boxes and take them to either:

    • 1756 N Kimball Avenue, Chicago IL 60647
    • 1245 Hartrey Ave, Evanston, IL 60202

At the time of writing, the first WasteShed location is temporarily closed, so make sure you check the organization’s news first before traveling. As for the Evanston office, it is open from Wednesday to Sunday.

If you are unsure of your donations, give WasteShed a call first:

    • 1756 N Kimball Avenue, Chicago IL 60647 – 773 666 5997
    • 1245 Hartrey Ave, Evanston, IL 60202 – 224 999 7460
 02 Donate to Schoolhouse Supplies


Schoolhouse Supplies is another nonprofit that takes donations of unwanted markers. It has been giving free marker pens and other stationery items to local public schools since 1999. In fact, it has provided $35.5 million worth of supplies!

To donate, follow these steps:

    1. Check the nonprofit’s list of acceptable donations.
    2. Pack your markers in bags or boxes.
    3. Schedule an appointment for your donation.
    4. Visit the drop-off to unload your donation.
 03 Send to Crayola Marker Recycling Program


Crayola has a recycling program called ColorCycle. You can send your markers here to be taken apart for recycling. However, as of right now, the brand is pausing marker donation shipments.

If you have a lot of Crayolas you want to donate, keep an eye out for when the program resumes.

Why Do You Need to Recycle Markers and Pens?


Many parts of markers and pens are made of plastic that does not biodegrade. That means they do not break down and can last hundreds of years wherever they are discarded. If these items are thrown into landfills, they will find ways into our ecosystems and cause damage.

Therefore, it is essential that we recycle markers and pens. By doing so, we can keep them out of landfills and minimize their environmental consequences.

Tips to Make Markers & Pens Last Longer


Tip #1 – Never Keep Them Uncapped

Uncapped markers and pens dry out more quickly. This, in turn, renders them useless. So, when using these writing tools, you must remember to cap them. The best way to not forget is to make it a habit to do so whenever you are not holding them in your hands!

Tip #2 – recycle Them Properly

Markers and pens can serve you a lot longer if you take care of them properly, and part of this is storing them right. Here is how:

For markers:

  • For markers that are dual-sided, store them horizontally in a case.
  • For markers that have only one end, store them upside down vertically in a holder.
  • Keep markers, regardless of the number of sides they have, away from direct sunlight.

For pens:

  • For pens that have felt tips, store them vertically with the tip down in a holder.
  • For rollerball and ballpoint pens, store them vertically with the tip up in a holder.
  • Store all pens at room temperature and away from sunlight exposure.

Tip #3 – Know How to Revive Them

Sometimes, markers and pens appear to have died out but can actually be revived. Knowing how to recover them enables you to use them for another while.

A few ways to save dying markers are:

  • Dry-Erase Markers: Flip the tip with the help of pliers.
  • Alcohol-Based Markers: Dip the tip or fill it with rubbing alcohol.
  • Water-Based Markers: Dip the tip or fill it with water.

To renew dried-out pens, try:

  • Soaking the tip in rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or hot water.
  • Blow air into the end of the ink cartridge.
  • Rub the pen against a scrap piece of paper or wipe it with a cloth to unclog dried ink.


Now, you know how to recycle markers & pens and exactly where to recycle them. The next time you want to dispose of pens and markers, consider the methods we have listed here instead. You can give these writing tools a new life and help minimize environmental damage by doing so.

5/5 - (2 votes)

Magazine Posts

how to remove fountain pen ink from your hands - inter

How to Remove Fountain Pen Ink From Your Hands

Laura Walker

Fountain pens are timeless writing tools cherished by many. However, even the ...

Best Way to Store Gel Pens

Best Way to Store Gel Pens

Laura Walker

When it comes to preserving the quality and performance of your gel ...

what color pen is best for memory

What Color Pen is Best for Memory?

Laura Walker

If you walk by a shop with a large poster that reads ...

Are Copic Sketch Markers Any Good

Are Copic Sketch Markers Any Good

Laura Walker

Few brands command as much attention and admiration as Copic in the ...

Are Ohuhu Markers Any Good? – A Quick Review

Laura Walker

POSCA vs COPIC: A Head-to-Head Comparison

Laura Walker

How to Hold a Pen Properly for Beginners?

Laura Walker

How Long is a Bic Pen? (Answered)

Laura Walker