6 Ways to Recycle School Supplies

Winter marks the halfway point in the school year — the perfect time to de-clutter cubbies and clean out lockers.

But all those dried-out markers, empty glue sticks, and dog-eared books need not end up in landfills. Companies like TerraCycle, Crayola, and Office Depot offer recycling programs to give battered backpack dwellers a second life.

Here’s how to recycle some common school supplies:


If you have a lot of binders to recycle, consider TerraCycle. On its mission of “Eliminating the Idea of Waste,” recycling company TerraCycle offers a few for-purchase options for recycling binders, including the Binders and Presentation Materials Zero Waste Box and the Office Supplies Zero Waste Box. Old binders are separated, sorted, and processed into raw materials for use in the creation of various new products. Learn more about how TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Boxes work.

Pens, pencils, and highlighters

TerraCycle has two free recycling programs available for your writing instruments. Teaming up with BIC, they offer the BIC Stationery Recycling Program, which accepts all brands of writing instruments as well as flexible packaging. If you have Ticonderoga, Prang, or Lyra writing instruments, check out the free Dixie Classroom Recycling Program on TerraCycle. Just fill a box with the accepted items and print out your prepaid mailing label. TerraCycle will ensure that the items are separated and processed for recycling or composting.


Everyone’s favorite art supply becomes liquid fuel for cars via Crayola’s ColorCycle program, available to schools across the continental United States and parts of Canada. The art supply company provides prepaid shipping labels to send used markers to a conversion facility.

Used textbooks and novels

Leave them at your nearest BetterWorld Books drop box. The organization has reused or recycled more than 117 million books to date and raised in excess of $15 million for libraries and nonprofit literacy organizations around the world. Any books they can’t sell are donated to one of their nonprofit partners or recycled.


Good news! If you have empty glue sticks, you can recycle them with your writing utensils in TerraCycle’s free BIC Stationary Recycling Program. Otherwise, TerraCycle offers a Glue Sticks and Bottles Zero Waste Box and Zero Waste Pallet, for purchase. Both of these zero waste options accept any brand and size of empty craft glue sticks and bottles.

Empty ink cartridges and small electronics

Schools can sign up for free recycling with Office Depot at MySchoolRecycles.com. Teachers and students send in the ink and toner empties (free shipping!), and the supply company rewards them with a gift card for the value, for use in-store and online.

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  1. Love using Terracycle, but the writing instruments brigade has been closed to new customers for at least a year now. Hope a new company surfaces to handle all of the used pens out there.

  2. If we can’t join the writing instrument brigade since it is closed to new members, can you post some links to organizations that are participating that we could drop off our pens and markers to? I would love to donate my pens and markers to someone who could then get them recycled and have the organization get credit from Terracycle.

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