It is estimated that more than 25 million pens are sold every day worldwide, that is, about 300 per second. For this reason, environmentalists have called attention in recent years on ways to avoid the environmental impact caused by the production, use and disposal of these products. In this sense, we have summarized in this article the most relevant information to understand the danger involved and the alternatives that currently exist.
The digital newspaper El Español says that only in the United States 1.6 billion pens are discarded per year while in China the figure increases to 38,000 million. These numbers alert institutions and activists that defend the environment, causing us to stop observing only the problem of plastic bags and take a look at the situation of handwriting tools.
If we check how many pens we have in our homes and offices, we may have a closer idea of the impact these objects are causing on the environment. It is a very useful utensil, since it is useful for taking notes, it is small and light, however, we lose sight of it easily and without realizing it we acquire a new one before taking advantage of the previous one. This is also due to the fact that it is an economic product, so we do not notice the expense of money.
But the most important danger is in the pens that serve as an advertising gift. Many people do not even have to buy them, since all types of companies use them to promote their products and services. It is a cheap way to advertise, so they are produced in large quantities, while leaving more and more plastic waste on the entire planet.
Where to throw pens that no longer work?
Although we buy the best pen of today, at some point it will run out of ink and it will have to be thrown away, but as with some everyday products, it is sometimes difficult to decide where to place it at the time of disposal. It is normal for us to think that the recycling bin identified with the color yellow is the right place, since we throw the plastic there. However, due to the presence of ink and metal, it is necessary to throw them in the gray container destined for the different remains.
Although it may be a good start, this does not guarantee that the pens are properly separated and are very likely to end up in the incinerator, becoming highly polluting elements. In this sense, it seems better to take them to a green point, whether fixed or mobile, where the waste is organized more rigorously.
But in Spain there is a better option, which is to convert damaged pens into other plastic products. This method called Terracycle is sponsored by the renowned Bic brand, which has a special program to recycle writing instruments. In this case, there are many collection points where we can take not only pens, but also markers, pens, erasers, pencil holders, liquid concealers and highlighters. Fortunately, they can be of any brand, but wooden products like pencils are not allowed. Nor are other school supplies received, such as rules, glues and chalk.
If you want to be part of the change, you can collect 20 kg of writing instruments and Bic is responsible for paying the shipment through Envialia, as well as managing the donation of 0.01 euros for each piece to a school or association that you can to choose. This recycling program accumulates these products in warehouses and then sends them to France, where they are cleaned and recycled, turning them into plastic furniture, such as park benches and chairs.
The use of rechargeable and ecological pens
Reducing the environmental impact is everyone’s task, which is why certain alternatives have appeared, which although they do not solve the problem by 100%, they do make a great contribution to the fight against environmental pollution. This is the case of rechargeable pens.
The main idea is to avoid as much as possible disposable plastic pens, that is, those that companies give us and we use them only once, this in the best case, since many times we do not even use them. On the other hand, when using a refillable fountain pen we just have to change the ink.
However, there is a small detail that we must take into account when using refillable pens, since there are two types, some work with a replacement cartridge and others have a piston system. In the first case, we would still be generating waste every time the cartridge is empty, while the second option has a mechanism very similar to a syringe, so you can recharge it very easily.
The good thing about this last product is that we can choose the ink, so that we could use an ecological one to be more consistent with the purpose of reducing pollution. In addition, the color options are multiple and allow more original handwriting.
As for ecological pens, these are disposable utensils, but partially biodegradable, since they are manufactured with materials such as sustainable forest wood, recycled cardboard and bamboo, however, they can contain small parts made of plastic that must be separated to continue The recycling cycle. This is a great idea to make advertising pens more environmentally friendly. In addition, usually real and potential customers make positive associations towards brands that invest in eco-products, so everyone gets benefits.
There is a curious case in Bolivia, where an engineer has created biodegradable cardboard pens that contain seeds inside, so once used they can be introduced into the soil to grow herbs and vegetables. This means that companies would be returning to the ecosystem a little of what they have taken for their economic benefit.
Seed pens have plastic parts that must be removed for sowing. However, one of the future goals is to create fully biodegradable products.