What do you do when you’ve finished with a used ink pen – toss it in the trash? Probably, because that’s what we all do. It’s about the only thing you can do with an old pen.
“According to the EPA, Americans throw away 1.6 billion disposable pens every year. Add the rest of the world, multiply by over 50 years of writing with disposable pens, and that’s a lot of metal and plastic waste ending up in landfill! I suspect it’s just the tip of the iceberg, given the piles of disposable pens that many of us haven’t thrown out yet. Not to mention the refillable pens that we never take the trouble to refill. (…)
Fast forward to the age of Bic, and the advent of cheap, disposable pens. New habits were formed, and ballpoint pens (not refills) were soon sold by the pack. Now, everywhere we turn, someone is handing us an inexpensive pen with their company name on it. Many end up in a drawer, pencil cup or purse, never to see the light of day or fulfil their intended function. Others are pitched in the trash when they run dry.” As written by Fredrica Rudell on We Hate to Waste
Complete pens can’t go into normal plastic recycling bins because they contain bits of metal, as well as the remainder of the ink. The barrels themselves are typically “Type 5 recyclable plastic,” according to Pilot, but all metal components and the refills have to be removed before recycling. So, even if you disassembled every pen you use, you would still be left with a pile of clips, plungers, springs, barrel rings, screw-on tips, and refills.