How can I reuse or recycle whiteboard marker pens?

We’ve had an email from Julie asking:

Can I recycle whiteboard marker pens? What plastic are they?

I don’t know what plastic they are. I’ve spent about an hour this morning reading the “about our products” page of all the marker pen manufacturers I can think of but no one mentions that – and no one mentions that. (They do though tell you how many solar panels are on their factory, or how they print the name of the markers onto the marker barrel. You know, useful stuff like that). ANYWAY. I’ll shoot emails off to all those companies to see if anyone of them can help us out with some info.

Even if the barrel is a recyclable plastic, it probably won’t be a case of just throwing in them in a green bin – you’ll probably have to remove the writing core (the ink “tampon” – see the things I learn reading these pen websites!) as that’ll be different from the hard plastic of the barrel. You can apparently get refillable whiteboard markers – you either resoak the “tampon” inside with more ink or replace the whole ink bit with a new pre-soaked one. Needless to say, the time/mess/expense of doing that means that only the dedicated will do it – for the rest, it’s easier & cheaper to replace & throw away disposable ones, sigh.

Does anyone know any more about recycling them? Or has any “reducing” ideas – how to make them last longer, which brands to get/avoid, alternatives in the first place? And can they be reused for anything?

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13 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle whiteboard marker pens?”


  1. Melinda says:

    I recently saw a photo of a jump rope using electrical cord and old marker bodies for handles. Sounds like a painful thing to miss and get on the legs, though.

  2. We live in the Tropics, we store ours in the fridge (not freezer, mind!) to stop them from drying out. Also, avoid writing on inappropriate and rough surfaces. This would stop the nib from becoming fuzzy and worn out too soon.

  3. glitterpixie says:

    Would love a soloution to this. I work in a primary school and we get through a lot of whiteboard markers. I have the kids very well trained – so not wasted or dried out, but still, it’s a lot of markers, don’t even want to think about how many across the country.

    I quite like the skipping rope idea actually, the one’s the kids bring to school aren’t much nicer than electrical cord anyway.

    Any reduce ideas that would work on a larger scale. Not sure what we could use instead!

  4. leah sawkins says:

    my boss at my old job used to put a couple of drops of nail polish remover in hs pen when it started to dry out. i’m pretty sure it was a whiteboard marker but not 100%.

  5. heckety says:

    How’s about a pea-shooter???? Oh, they are probably not politically correct any longer!!!!

  6. It may depend upon brand, but I am pretty sure many can be refilled (it can be a bit messy, but provided the tips are intact it would be the most practical use).

  7. Amanda says:

    Give them to a teacher. The caps can be used as counters or craft items for the classroom!

  8. Pauli J says:

    If you actually want to reuse the marker’s plastic cylinder, you could string several together to create trivets, coasters, or place mats. If you didn’t want to leave them plain you could weave yarn, or strips of cloth around the cylinders.

    Also, you can string several together like a ladder. The ladder will allow you to store round items on their sides. Place the ladder on your counter, table, in your fridge, or in a cupboard. Then you can pyramid cans, bottles…

  9. Pauli J says:

    You can also use the marker caps as hooks in the garage or attach them to a colorfully painted 1 x 4 and make a set of hooks for a child’s room.

  10. steph says:

    I think refillable is the best option.
    I get mine from AUS Pen.
    You could also try making some mathematical art ala vi hart.

  11. hopkins says:

    Tassimo TDISCS:TerraCycle is a company that recycles certain waste products and generates cash for charity.There are also other products, such as any brand of biscuit wrapper, baby wipes packaging, writing instruments (pens, mechanical pencils, highlighters, permanent markers, whiteboard pens and correction fluid pots),



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