How can I reuse or recycle … used staples?

StaplerWe’ve had an email from Christina Albertsen:

My colleages and I throw away loads of used staples every day where we work, and I was just wondering if there’s a way of recycling them somehow!

If you have any ideas (apart from buying one of those stapless staplers, which I will be doing) that would be great!

They seem so small but I remember reading in a book a few years ago that a colossal amount of steel is used to make staples. Unfortunately I can’t find the book just at the moment so I can’t find the exact figure but it was a very big number for what seem to be small and insignificant bits of bent metal.

The book recommended using paper clips or treasury tags instead since they’re reusable – and of course there is Christina’s stapleless stapler idea – but aside from that, as Christina asks, are there any ways to recycle (or reuse) staples once they’ve been squished?

When I was a kid, I used to make chains of them for fun but it was fiddly and they had sharp ends so couldn’t be used for much – or could they?

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54 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … used staples?”

  1. john b says:

    Put some in a sealed container then shake to make a rudimentary percussion instrument. My kids have done this using loo roll tubes with paper held in place with a rubber band over each end, although they used lentils instead of old staples.

  2. I spend ages at work folding them over and making staple “chains”…

  3. trish says:

    i believe you can recycle them just like any other metal, but you’d have to have a good place to store them until you had enough worth to recycle.

  4. rani says:

    If you can straighten them out well enough, you could try reusing them in the stapler (try a few at a time). Or just poke two similar holes in what you want to staple and push through to reuse.

    In the future, see if your office can get one of those paper staplers (no metal) for anything 5 pages or under.

  5. Put them on a magnet base and use ’em to make cool little sculptures.

  6. Bas says:

    Make a small plaster cast of what ever you want, melt a load of staples with a blow torch into it (Don’t breath the fumes). Pristo presto you have a steel ornament.

    • I doubt if this would work because I think staples are steel and you can’t really melt it domestically. But you could make a plaster cast and as it is still slightly damp stick lots of old staples in, but you might need lots of helpers to do it before it all hardens.

  7. La Mariposita says:

    I’m with Trish on collecting them in bulk then taking them to your local scrap metal mechants’. Either find a nice neat little container with a split/hole at the top to collect them…or liking the Chris Baskind..use a large magnet(which can be coupled as a paperweight), to collect them. In the office you can have little containers on everyone’s desk and let them get in on the game too…you can collect in bulk :) it’s all getting very exciting…..but I’m still here staple picking old letters for shredding!!!! Shessh!

  8. Amber says:

    In the future, instead of buying a regular stapler, you could buy one of those neat stapleless staplers.

  9. Steve says:

    I have seen a woman is Seattle removing the
    staples from telephone poles. She does this all day every week day. I’m sure it’s more profitable then begging.

    She seems to clean the poles about 3 to 7 per day.

    Maybe someone should ask her about her
    habit. She can be found in the Crownhill
    neighborhood of seattle

  10. Anita says:

    I believe we can place a common recylcing bin in the office area and collect enough to take to the recylcing center. Any other suggestions are welcomed.


  11. Kim says:

    Going with the robot pubes idea, maybe they can be donated to an art studio or someone who creates sculptures from metal, they could use them to add ‘texture’.

  12. Gulia says:

    The staples can be used to make a house number on a polymer clay tablet. Make sure you use dark color clay so the staples will be visible. Squeeze each staple into clay to form numbers, or letters, burn the tablet by instructions, cover with polish. Now hang it, or use as decorative item.

  13. Gulia says:

    Bang them around a strip of fabric, rubber or leather, glue fabric on the inside. You have a unique bracelet.

  14. Gulia says:

    Decorate candles with them. Push staples into the candle to make a pattern or initial.

  15. Gulia says:

    Use them as wire for homemade jewelry.

  16. Gulia says:

    Form tiny letters out of them for homemade cards or scrap booking.

  17. Gulia says:

    When working with small screws, beads or other parts, improvise a tiny box out of new staples. Brake the stock of staples into a square. Brake the other square in a way that it fits inside first square to form a box. Keep small parts in it.

    Also, making two of those boxes and gluing them around tiny wooden cube, you’ll create a cute key chain trinket.

  18. Gulia says:

    Using a small match box as a guide ( or any other box no wider than the staples), glue the line of new, unbroken staples to the side, then snap away the extra. Do it on each side before glue dries up. Use decorated box for storage, as a frame, or a shadow box.

  19. Paul Clewer says:

    RObot Pubes?

  20. Andrew Walker says:

    Who’s Robert Pubes?

  21. Andrew Walker says:

    Hi folks! Just keeping you updated on move desk move with my staples. I managed to move them from one desk to another without a hitch. Guess what, i used a Rose’s tin and i recommend it if any one else needs to transport a large amount of staples safely. Cheers, Andy!

  22. Andrew Walker says:

    Important Update!

    My work colleages have just given me four green staples in a row.

    I now have four green ones, a gold one and approximately 4,354 silver ones.

    What is everyone else’s favourite colour staple?

    • no1hoarder says:

      I might be able to get you a blue staple, I’m not sure so I’ll have to check. If you want to trade some silver staples for a blue one, I’m not sure what the current exchange rate is… Any ideas? ;-)

  23. Addison says:

    You don’t mention why you have so many used staples lying about, but you should take note that if you’re taking them out of paper before recycling the paper, you really don’t need to do that.

    Staples are a ferrous metal (meaning that they are a product of iron) and are therefore magnetic. When you throw stapled paper into a recycling bin, the recycler chops everything up and uses magnets to retrieve anything magnetic: staples, paper clips, etc. Then they recyle the collected metal. In fact, I’ve started throwing bent paper clips into the paper bin because I know they’ll end up getting recycled, rather than just throwing them into the regular trash.

  24. Bill Jones says:

    You may not believe this. I have 2 large picle jars (about 18-20 pounds total) full of old used staples.

    About 20 years ago, some co-workers and I just started saving them in a coffee cup and the fun grew. They stopped, but I kept on collecting them. Other co-workers contributed to my collection madness until I retired over 5 years ago. No I’m still holding on to my little conversation piece.

    I was just wondering what the record is…if there is one.

    I still have plans to turn them over to an art department at a local college to see if they can make something out of them.

    Any suggestions other than throwing them out? Not an option.

  25. Robot Pubes says:

    We will take all of your used staples.

  26. Robot Pubes says:

    We will take all of your staples….every last one.

  27. Jeff Johnston says:

    Oddly enough, I collect used staples. I would appreciate any contributions to my collection. If you would care to share your used staples please contact me at Thank you.

  28. Anonymous says:

    As a eacher, I use staples all the time to hang up sentence strips, posters, and children’s work on the walls and bulletin boards all the time. At the end of the year, I have to take EVERYTHING off the walls, and therefore end up with many staples. The cycle begins again the following year. Maybe I will start collecting them as well!

  29. Staple Collector says:

    I just started collection staples to try recycle them in som way I’m glad to see others have simolar ideas and care for our planet like me :-)

  30. Brenda says:

    I’ve been saving the pulled staples and just started my 2nd container. What I hope I can do with them is take them to the recycle plant and any money I get I would donate to something like Ronald McDonald House for kids with cancer. Just like one does with the sodapop can pull tabs. Wouldn’t it be great if we could start a trend where saving staples was as popular as saving tabs for kids wiht cancer. :)

  31. Kerrie says:

    Put them in a steel can (ie baked beans) and when it’s half full squeeze the top together. this can then be recycled!

  32. Raychal says:

    I am just glad I am not the only one who collects used staples. I started about five months ago after realizing how many get thrown away at the office every day. Everyone makes fun of me so it is nice to know I not alone. haha

  33. Patty says:

    I have a bag full of staples that Me and colleagues collected at work. I want to do something with them, that idea about the candles sounds great, I will try it.

  34. Randy says:

    I collected used staples for a number of years while working at an insurance company. ” You know they kill a forest a day, is what I used to say”. I filled up two empty office glass candy jars, then a large box that I kept in top desk drawer. That was 25 years ago. I still have them. They don’t seem to rust either, as they have been exposed to all types of moisture. The box is actually a brick of staples, 4″x8″x6″. my wife thinks I’m nuts for keeping them. I think they are very unique and actually represent many different lives , that once placed the staple that was used. Almost a history. Glad I’m not the only one who finds beauty in the small thing.

  35. Oakleaf says:

    I really like this thread.

    I am currently archiving 35 years worth of correspondence from projects at an architecture practice. The used staples are amounting quickly, with 8 days creating about 100g worth of staples (based on average weight of a staple being 32.4mg, an estimated total of 3000 staples). I would like to create something meaningful with these, as the embody so much work and achievement. Fussing around with individual staples is not an option, I have another 6 weeks work here, thus a creation using bulk staples is needed.

    Any ideas?

  36. Nikki says:

    I’ve been collecting used staples through my work process. It started out just to keep my area clean and safe (nobody wants to have a staple poke them in the foot) and the hobby kept going. I’m entering my collection in the local fair this year. After the fair I was going to try my hand at using them for an art project. Should be fun.

  37. Cindy says:

    Use a heart shaped baking pan – small or other shaped metal baking pan. Fill it with the used staped. Cover the entired filled pan with Elmer’s Glue – preferably colored. Let dry completely. Once dried, the staples are all in one shaped piece and make nice paperweights. !

  38. Colin says:

    I am also very glad I am not the only one that does this. everyone looks at me weird when they see my container I use for my staples at work. I like the glue mold idea. I would recycle them and get some cash but i think the cash would be very underwhelming considering the time and effort into collecting. I am glad I found a thread like this though. I know I am not alone!

  39. Staple Guy says:

    All this staple talk is so exciting

  40. rug rug says:

    Throw them into compost, they supply iron to the soil.

  41. says:

    I heard from somewhere, that staple wires can be recycled and used for production of wheelchairs, that is why i started collecting them and also my friends from work..but i have no idea where to give them.

  42. David Trim says:

    I think loose staples that are binned with other trash will eventually be recovered during the incineration.

  43. Melissa says:

    I have been collecting them for about 5 years. I started collecting because I audit records where I work and asked the department I audit to please be careful not to staple all of the tags on top of one another because they were ruining the data, so some of the smart butts started really stapling the crap out of the forms and tags, so I figured I would save them for the ring leader and give them to him as a gift when he retires. but heck if they are worth $$ I will keep them for myself. :)

  44. Christi F says:

    We staple signs onto wooden buildings and then pull them back off when they are sold. We end up with a ton of used heavy staples. I am considering putting them in metal containers to be used as a magnetic cube/paper weight. The weight alone can be used in all sorts of ways.

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