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Can Pencils be Recycled? If so, How?

Eco-friendly notebook and pencil

Pencils can be recycled as long as they are made from recyclable materials. This goes for wood pencils, plastic pencils, and metal pencils.

Why Recycle Pencils?

Man drawing earth with recycle symbol.

Worldwide, students use approximately 4.5 billion pencils every year. This creates a lot of waste, and you can reuse the materials.

How Many Trees are Cut Down to Make Pencils?

Wood pencils can cause about 82,000 trees to be cut down every year.

How Many Pencils are Made Every Year?

Piles of sharpened pencils

More than 15 billion pencils are manufactured every year.

How to Recycle Wood Pencils

In order to recycle wood pencils, they must be made from all-natural materials. The wood must be untreated and uncoated.

The wood from the pencils will be recycled and made into new products like mulch, paper, and particle board.

Programs for Recycling Used Pencils and Pens

BIC office in Toronto, Canada.

BIC has a program to help consumers recycle their used writing utensils. You can participate in the program they have partnered with Terracycle. TerraCycle is an organization that collects used products and recycles them into new products.

In the program, they collect used stationary equipment. This includes any brand of used pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, and mechanical pencils.

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You can either print off a shipping label from their website or request a prepaid shipping label from them.

Once they receive the shipment, they sort the products by material type and send them to be recycled into new products.

As a bonus, every shipment also will contribute to a charitable organization.

How to Recycle Plastic Pencils

BIC ReVolution #2 Mechanical Pencil, 65% Recycled Plastic, Medium Point (0.7 mm), 100% Recycled Packaging, 48 Count Pack

Plastic pencils can be recycled if they are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This type of plastic is recyclable and can be turned into new products, such as pipes and vinyl products. This type of plastic is usually recyclable in most communities.

Other uses for HDPE include detergent bottles, milk jugs, and shampoo bottles.

How to Recycle Metal Pencils

Zebra Pen M-301 Mechanical Pencil, Stainless Steel Barrel, Fine Point, 0.5mm, Black Grip, 2-Pack

Metal pencils can be recycled as long as they are made from recyclable materials. To recycle metal pencils, you have to remove the eraser and ferrule first. Also, be sure to take out the graphite.

When recycling any type of pencil, it is important to check with your local recycling center to see what materials they accept.

Can you Recycle Painted Pencils?

Recycled Newspaper Pencil (Royal Blue) (Full Size Round Painted Pencils) (Earth Friendly Pencil) (Latex Free Eraser) (HB Number 2 Lead) (Box of 144)

The paint on pencils can chemicals not accepted by recycling centers. Because of this, it is not recommended to recycle painted pencils.

What Can You Do to Repurpose Pencils

A pot of plant with wooden pencil.

If you want to make the most out of recycling pencils at home, there are many ways to repurpose them.

Gardening Supports

Do you have a garden? You can use pencils in the garden in a number of ways. To start off with, sometimes young seedlings need support when they are growing. You can give them the support they need to grow healthy and strong with twine and a pencil. Simply tie the seedling to the pencil if it is flopping over, and adjust it as necessary or until the seedling has its own support.

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Use as Mulch

Pencils can also be used as mulch in the garden. To start off with, pencils can be used as a way to keep weeds at bay. You can safely shred the wood material by breaking the pencil into pieces. Be sure to wear gloves when you are going so to prevent any splinters. Place the wood around the base of the plant. This helps to prevent weeds and it also will conserve water.

Turn Them into Art

Create fantastic pieces of art using pencils as a medium. You can use anything from graphite pencils, to regular wooden pencils. Be as creative as you want, and use them to draw or write.

You can also use them to make 3D art. For example, you could take a pencil and carve out a design.

Types of Pencils

Various pencils against the blue background.

The first pencil was simply graphite. The word “pencil” actually comes from the Latin word “penicillus,” which means “little tail.” The first pencils were made by cutting graphite into thin rods and attaching them to a string.

The modern pencil was invented in 1795 by Nicholas-Jacques Conte. He used a process of mixing clay and graphite to create a stronger pencil lead. Pencils made with this process are still in use today.

The most common type of pencil is the wood-cased pencil. These pencils have a slanted cut at one end and contain graphite mixed with clay. The graphite core is attached to the wood casing with glue.

Wood-cased pencils come in a variety of sizes, including standard, jumbo, and mini. Standard pencils are the most common type of pencil and are about seven inches long. Jumbo pencils are larger than standard pencils and are about eight inches long. Mini pencils are smaller than standard pencils and are about six inches long.

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There are also mechanical pencils, which do not have a wood casing. Instead, they have a metal or plastic barrel that contains the lead. The lead is advanced by pressing a button or twisting the barrel.

Reusing Pencils to Save Them

Little girls drawing about environment.

If you have pencils that you don’t need any more, you can make good use of them. Donating pencils to students in need is a great way to recycle them. Talk to local schools and see if the have a program to reuse or donate pencils.

There are also numerous other organizations around that collects pencils and gives them to students all over the world.

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