We all know that recycling is important, but do you know why? Recycling helps reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill. By reducing landfill, we can help conserve natural resources, save energy, and prevent pollution. However, it can be difficult to know what you can and cannot recycle.
This article lists a variety of stationery and school supplies and outlines whether you can recycle each one.
We will tell you how to recycle them, and what to do with them if you can’t. From pens and pencils to folders and notebooks, find out how you can help the environment by recycling your stationery.
Recycling Pens (including highlighters and markers)
You can’t recycle pens at home, however, you don’t need to send your pens to landfill. You can recycle your pens with TerraCycle’s Writing Instruments Recycling Programme. TerraCycle has partnered with BIC to set up community recycling points at schools, shops, and businesses across the UK.
The programme also accepts highlighters, markers, and correction fluids. Pens are cleaned, separated into different materials, melted down, and made into new products.
Pencils can be recycled with a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box. Simply fill your box with stationery, and then use the pre-paid UPS shipping label to send the filled box to TerraCycle for recycling.
First Mile offers a similar service – simply order a sack, fill it with stationery including your pencils, and send it to them to recycle and repurpose.
Paper can often be recycled at home using your local council’s curbside bin. Most paper collections accept newspapers, magazines, copier paper, notebook paper, letters, and more. However, post-it notes and sticky labels cannot be recycled in your local council’s curbside bin. The UK uses 12 million tons of paper each year and it is recycled at a paper mill.
Check out our guide on paper recycling. (<<link to paper recycling guide)
Sellotape is not recyclable and should be thrown away in your rubbish bin. You should also try to remove pieces of tape from cardboard boxes and wrapping paper before recycling them.
Your 30cm school or office ruler is most likely made of plastic. How you recycle it will depend on what type of plastic it is made from, which is often indicated on the ruler itself.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), and Polypropylene (PP) can be recycled at home, whereas Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is only recyclable at specialist points.
Ring Binder Folders & Lever-Arch Files
Ring binders and lever-arch files need to be separated into different components for recycling. Remove the metal rings/lever-arch and recycle them with your metal recycling collection. Recycle the cardboard element separately with cardboard recycling. Recycle any plastic parts with other plastics.
Alternatively, you can get a TerraCycle Binders Zero Waste Recycling Box, which recycles all makes and models of binders. Simply fill up the box with binders and take it to any UPS location. Or, schedule a collection to ship your items back to TerraCycle, which will recycle all binders.
The binders are separated into metal, fibre, and plastic. Metals are melted and recycled, paper is recycled, and plastics are extruded and pelletised to be moulded into new plastic products.
Pencil Sharpeners, Staplers & Hole Punchers
Pencil sharpeners, Staplers & Hole Punchers can be recycled with a TerraCycle Zero Waste Stationery Box. Simply purchase a box, collect all your stationery, and send the filled box to TerraCycle for recycling.
First Mile offers a similar service. Simply order a sack, fill it with stationery including your stapler and hole puncher, and send it to them to recycle and repurpose.
Some people might think that notebooks can be recycled easily as they are composed mostly from paper. However, in order to recycle notebooks, you must first separate out their components.
Paper can be recycled with household paper recycling, and so can cardboard covers.
Recycle wire spiral binding with metal.
Recycle plastic covers or binding with plastic recycling at home or at specialist points.
Old textbooks and books that you no longer need can’t usually be recycled with other paper recycling because of the glue that’s used to bind the pages together. Instead, you should pass them on to someone else, donate them to a charity shop, sell them online or at a car boot sale, or donate them to a school for other students to use.