How can I reuse or recycle badges/pins?

We had a question on the ‘Suggest an Item’ page a while ago which I seem to have missed, so here it is. Sylvia asked:

How can I recycle old badges? plastic and metal.

Actually recycling them may be difficult as they tend to be mixed materials – metal and potentially multiple types of plastic but they’re perfect for passing on to someone else. A lot of people collect badges – doesn’t matter what’s on them or actually, the more obscure the better – so either offer them to a local charity/op shop or if you’ve got enough of them to make it worthwhile, offer them on your local Freecycle/Freegle or even eBay/Etsy/Folksy.

A question for badge makers – can old badges be recovered using badge making machine?

Any other ideas?

(Photo by Miss Frannington)

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88 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle badges/pins?”


  1. Lynsey says:

    The badge machine I uses lots of force to push the two parts of the badge together – the back and the front. I have made mistakes before (with the image etc) and tried to get them apart to fix the problem and it can be done but you will ruin one side of the badge (normally the back). So unless you have lots of spare back bits it probably won’t be worth it to try and re – cover them. I’m speaking from the experience of a hobby badge machine though and not a professional one – you may get a different result with a proper machine!

  2. Alice says:

    Could just stick a sticker over them.

    Cloth badges are really cool – maybe try glueing fabric on and stitching the edges around the back?

  3. Kara says:

    They can’t really be recovered with another badge machine, but they *can* be recovered with polymer clay or paper, fabric, and decoupage glue. They make good bases for multimedia brooches as well, especially the larger ones.

  4. Retro pins and badges are all the rage for ’80s parties these days, so offer them for a sum to your email and Facebook contacts (a safer way of selling things online) and watch them get snapped up within hours. My friends and I have sold many things that way — post pics of books, CDs, sports gear, memorabilia etc on FB and create a special “Facebook Yard Sale” album.

  5. h.elizabeth says:

    Depending on the size, you could use some of them in place of thumb tacks / push pins on a bulletin board or something. I’ve done that occasionally to brighten up my office.

  6. Stick a magnet on the back and make funky fridge magnets/decorations.
    Stick 2 together back to back (with a ribbon between them), repeat as neccessary and make a mobile with some bits of wire ot lollypop sticks.

  7. Dee says:

    the irony is I have seen tonnes of buttons for recycling and yet you can recycle or reuse them………..

  8. Dee says:

    the irony is I have seen tonnes of buttons for recycling and yet you CAN’T recycle or reuse them………..

  9. luis chavez says:

    please I just want to recycle a comersial walkin coolers.
    or let me know where can I recycle this thanks u.

  10. Olia says:

    Sell it as a shed.

  11. Olia says:

    About badges. Paint over them and frame in a tiny frame for a tiny art exhibition.

  12. Uluska says:

    Remove the pins from the back, if needed, and glue the badges over door knobs. Cute redesign!

  13. Kool badges says:

    We hand make lthousands of badges each month. Ours are made up of an aluminium disc which is recyclable and a copper pin which is also recyclable. The paper can be recycled. The only part which is questionable is the plastic sheet that covers the design. Some places may recycle it but I’m not sure where. We tend to run giveaways and offer our spare ones as free gifts so only need to recycle the damaged ones. If they have a copper d pin back they can be dismantled but will be damaged in the process.

  14. Badge Destroyer says:

    If you just have a few that you want to recycle, take a hobby knife and slash an X over the front. The plastic and paper covering is then easy to pull off and you can recycle each component, or reuse the metal base to make a new button.

  15. Sunshine says:

    Use them to darn socks. :)

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