How to Turn Old Markers into Fuel

If you have used Crayola markers rattling around in a drawer, stop before you toss them out: the Crayola company has started a program to recycle the entire marker into a liquid fuel source.†Schools can register for the program, ColorCycle, so students in kindergarten through 12th grade can box up markers of any brand and send them to a recycling facility in Niagara Falls in upstate New York with Crayola paying the shipping costs.

The company, JBI Inc., says that it converts waste products into diesel and other liquid fuels via an “environmentally friendly, cost-effective process.” The fuel can either be used or sold to distributors who can blend it with other additives to produce gasoline.†Last year, JBI produced 370,000 gallons of fuel by processing shampoo and pill bottles, coffee containers, paint buckets and “other dense polyethylene that, unlike water and soda bottles, often isnít recycled,” says the Democrat and Chronicle.

As the Marin Independent Journal notes, students in San Rafael campaigned for over a year to get Crayola to start its marker recycling program.†Another art supply company (and Crayola competitor), Dixon Ticonderoga, heard about their efforts and started its own program last August, offering to pay to ship back its Prang Art Markers to a plant in Heathrow, Florida, for recycling.

It’s certainly worth the effort to collect used markers and send them off. One box of eight recycled markers can create the energy to make breakfast (if that involves brewing a pot of coffee, frying an egg and making toast), notes Clean Technica. 193 markers can power a city bus for three miles; 308 markers can produce one gallon of fuel and keep an SUV going for fifteen miles (or even more, one would think, for a car guzzling up less fuel).

Crayola has undertaken a number of†other green initiatives, including utilizing solar energy for production and using recycled plastics in some products and reforested wood in its colored pencils. More than a hundred schools have signed up for the Crayola recycling program. Just by packing up dried-up markers and sending them off, students learn a valuable lesson about getting the most out of the things we use.

With many students getting ready to head back to school by the end of this month, it’s a good time to check out backpacks, bookbags and pencil boxes (or wherever you might keep markers and art supplies) and see if there’s anything that can be reused or recycled. For instance:

1. Binders
These often contain cardboard inside a plastic covering. You can take this off and recycle the cardboard.

2. Paper
My son’s school has been slowly “going green” by sending out flyers via email. Inevitably, there are some paper forms; I save it all for scratch paper.

3. Notebooks
Tear out any unused sheets for more scratch paper or recycle them.

4. Glue
Bottles and glue sticks are made from plastic: wash these out with warm water, then†recycle.

5. File folders
These can definitely be recycled after removing any staples or other metal pieces.

6. Backpacks, computers, calculators
You can donate these (and, of course, clothes your kids have outgrown) via a number of organizations.

It is tempting (and there can be peer pressure on kids) to go out and get all new supplies. But why not see if there’s anything you can still use for the new school year and, like a box of old markers, give a second life to?


Photo from Thinkstock


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.1 years ago

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Thomas Morrison
Tracey Morrison3 years ago

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Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

Great! Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

Great idea!

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Andrea Jarich
Andrea J4 years ago

This is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Scott haakon
Scott haakon4 years ago

Ok how do they change it to fuel. When one write these articles it would be good it the rest of the information was there too. Who knows in a disaster it might be very useful.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck4 years ago

Good idea! Thanks for the info.

Richard Hancock
Richard Hancock4 years ago