How to Recycle Ink Pens

By Sally Murphy ; Updated September 15, 2017
Your ink pens probably have a longer shelf life than you think.

When your ink pen runs dry, it's tempting to toss it into the nearest wastebasket and purchase a new package of pens. But this isn't always the best option. For instance, maybe you have an expensive or special pen you'd like to keep around for a while. Or maybe you're just tired of the expense and wastefulness of throwing away your ordinary pens. By recycling your pens, you can help both your budget and the environment.

Refillable pens will help the environment and can be much cheaper for you.

Buy refillable pens. According to Illustration Castle, many pens are not currently accepted by recycling plants due to the extra processing required. This means that the most responsible choice is buying pens you can refill, rather than ordinary pens that will dry out quickly. Refillable pens can be more expensive but are also typically a good quality product. Buying refills for your sturdy, long-lasting pens will probably not be as expensive over the years as constantly purchasing new pens. Some online resources for purchasing refillable pens include Parker or Hyatt's (see Resources).

Reuse old pens when possible. If your pen has not run out of ink but has just dried up after leaving the cap off too long, it's possible to revive the pen instead of throwing it away. According to Illustration Castle, one way of reviving a dried-up pen is to screw off the top or bottom of the pen and add a drop of hot water into the central ink tube. If you aren't sure how to access the ink tube, you can also try running the tip through a flame by using a candle or a lighter.

An old ink pen has many different parts and possibilities for household uses.

Find creative ways to recycle old pens yourself. If you already have old ink pens, don't throw them away. According to the World Environmental Organization, you can dissemble the pen and use each separate part in a different way. For example, use old pen caps as caps on pencils to avoid creating holes or getting marks on your purse. Or you could use the outer tube as a bird cage perch for smaller pet birds, such as parakeets. If you have children or students who are beyond the choking hazard stage, many parts of the pen can be used for arts and crafts projects.

About the Author

Sally Murphy began writing professionally in 2000. She has worked as a writing instructor and written for various organizations and publications on topics ranging from history to hairstyles to television shows. Murphy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in writing.