Crayola's Marker Recycling/Downcycling Program Part II

I'm upcycling this post due to the number of comments and inquiries received over the past few days.

Just received the following comment: "I already put these in my recycling bin, how does this help the environment?" - sadly she didn't leave an email for a reply, so I'll state here in the big wide open that just because you put something in your recycling bin, it doesn't mean it gets recycled.

I'm afraid that's magical thinking (I'm guilty of it too!)

This is from a post shared by Story of Stuff recently:

image via Recycle by City - click through to go to their truly awesome FB page!

image via Recycle by City - click through to go to their truly awesome FB page!

PLEASE please do let me know if your local municipal recycling facility accepts plastic markers!!  I live in Marin County CA, a pro-recycling/composting community, and our local recyclers do NOT accept markers (or plastic film, plastic bags, styrofoam, bioplastics...) 

Okay then, back to the Crayola Marker Recycling Program...

Only U.S. and parts of Canada can participate so far.  (click through to a form where you can tell them you want it in your area)

It is currently set up for K-12 schools, BUT if you are a pre-school/homeschool/daycare/or regular household, partner with a local  school (if they haven't signed up yet, help them do it!) and add your markers to their collection.  Obviously they will like you more if you are nice about it, and especially if you offer to help them in some way like boxing up the markers when it is time to ship - (decency 101).

YES, it includes dry erase markers.  Though I must recommend a line of refillable dry erase markers from AusPen - the barrel is aluminum, and you can refill them endlessly - Colors are vibrant and there is NO weird smell.  Teachers I know love them.

**Yes, the refill bottles are plastic - one reader commented "You're just trading one plastic for another" - Well, true - but consider that each bottle contains 25-30 pen refills... Would be wonderful if AusPen would take them back, but they are "recyclable" for what THAT'S worth.

What do they (at Crayola) do with all the markers once they receive them?  I'm digging in on this one - Lightweight and preliminary answers are that Crayola contracts with a few different companies that then melt them into "alternative oil", a "wax compound used for asphalt in Canada", and that the process is also used to "generate electricity".

I have inquired about by products that are a result of the melting process (is there a solid/sludge left over after the melting? Is there a CO2 emissions capture on the system?) I hope to share those answers soon.

Here is Crayola's FAQ page on the topic

What I really want is to fly out there and tour a facility that handles the markers...

A few people mentioned that Elmer's Glue has a similar program - I wasn't able to find anything up and running - TerraCycle shows that the program is inactive. Bummer.

I'm not a fan of disposable plastic stuff, but I don't foresee kids/schools eschewing the colored marker anytime soon - For now, I'm in favor of this recycling effort because it is actively collecting/reusing a whopping amount of pieces of plastic that would otherwise be in a landfill or ocean near you.

There is one plastic recycling program that I think is the best I've seen -

Lush, the company that makes lotions and face masks and cosmetics, has a pretty brilliant program...  click on the image to link to the video

Not only do they take back the plastic, there is a financial incentive to do so... (bring in 5 clean empty pots for a free product).


PLEASE keep sending your comments and questions - I love them!

If you want me to answer them, please include your email address or message me directly on Facebook 

**This just in**  I just heard from a nice reader about a similar take-back recycling program at MAC... where they take back 6 of their empty make up containers and you get something like a lipstick for free - but wait.

After a few calls and some seriously legit hold time, I went from being told by their customer service reps (super nice people just doing their job) that for one, "MAC does not accept the landfill as a solution for their packaging" and that "they believe that the packaging is recycled on site and "recovered for energy" to, (long hold time) "Ms. Itzla, I have just learned that we send the packaging to whatever local recycling program is in the area".

Big difference.