Recycle your used pens, in support of Earth Day Canada.

Pens Recycling

Offices across the university can now easily recycle used pens and other writing instruments. The University of Alberta has joined the TerraCycle Pen Brigade. Through Supply Management Services (SMS), pens can be centrally collected and shipped off for recycling in the most efficient way possible.

The plastic in pens and other writing instruments can be recycled and turned into new products including park benches, picnic tables and waste bins. Additionally, every pen recycled contributes to a Canadian environmental organization. For every used Sharpie®, Paper Mate®, Expo® and uni-ball® product received, $0.02 is donated to Earth Day Canada.

What can you recycle?

  1. Any brand of pens and pen caps
  2. Any brand of mechanical pencils
  3. Any brand of markers and marker caps
  4. Any brand of highlighters and highlighter caps
  5. Any brand of permanent markers and permanent marker caps

How to participate

It’s easy for university staff to start recycling pens and other writing instruments in their offices. Simply meet the two conditions listed below.

Participants must have a defined workspace, whether it’s their individual office or a shared office (e.g. departmental, faculty or administrative unit offices). Collections of people that work together in the same space can also participate. The important thing is that this workspace is permanent. Common rooms that are used by many people are unfortunately ineligible for this program.

Nominate a workspace champion who will ensure that their co-workers learn about the pen recycling program and who can send in the pens when they are ready to be recycled.

Procedure for pen and writing instrument recycling:

  1. Download a poster explaining how your workspace can participate.
  2. Attach the poster to a bin or box. Place it centrally in your office, lab or shared workspace.
  3. Inform your co-workers that they can now recycle all pens, mechanical pencils, markers and highlighters. Use this email template to explain the program and encourage participation.
  4. Once your bin is full, box or bag the pens and send through campus mail to Supply Management Services (20 lbs maximum). Mark on the package: TerraCycle Pens.
    Please note, we cannot return the box or bag to you.

Once SMS has received an appropriate quantity of pens, they will be sent to TerraCycle through a Staples retail store. TerraCycle Canada will then recycle the depleted writing instruments into items like park benches, waste bins and more.


Why it's important

Recycling pens can have a bigger impact than you might imagine. Learn why it’s important in our blog story “Pencil Me In Under Recycling.”

For more information

Office of Sustainability