Artltdmag is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Can You Recycle Markers? & How? – 4 Simple Methods

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

can you recycle markers

Can you recycle markers? It’s a big yes! Markers are recyclable. Though not all components, like the core that is tightly sealed to secure the ink.

Markers have been around since the 1990s and at some point in our lives, they have been a great companion. But, imagine how many markers have been used since then and how much waste is that?

The good news is that everyone is more aware of this issue including manufacturers and I do hope you’re here to participate.

So, How Can You Recycle Markers?

The marker’s body and cap are made of plastic so they are fit for any upcycling and recycling activities. 

Anyone can also take part by donating old pens and markers that are still usable or by sending used markers back to the manufacturers who advocate recycling.

Big brands like Crayola, Sharpie, Expo, Staples, and PaperMate are offering free marker recycling at schools and other establishments. For instance, Crayola take back markers through K-12 school facilities in North America. They call this Crayola marker recycling program ColorCycle.

More than taking part in reducing plastic waste and staying true to their goal of achieving sustainability, this is their way of letting children understand how they can help save our planet.

This Crayola recycling program is not only for used markers under their brand but other marker brands are also accepted.

1. Inc

In partnership with JBI, Inc., the collected recycled plastic markers are then processed to make fuel that they can use for their facility. However, this program is temporarily suspended.

As for other brands, you can recycle expo markers through Terracycle marker recycling, for free. Same with Sharpie, and PaperMate.

Another big name joins the fun with Terracycle. The master of office supplies, Staples, comes with a bandwagon of Staples marker recycling USA.

2. Terracycle

Terracycle is a recycling company that specializes in hard-to-recycle waste like dry erase marker recycling. The accumulated waste from this program is turned into furniture, plastic pallets, tiles, playground covers, and many more.

What makes it more amazing is that they gave out points for every box(7 pounds) of used markers received. The total points you get can be converted as donations to your chosen school and charitable institution.

In addition to marker recycling, Terracycle in cooperation with Staples launched an in-store recycling program. This encourages consumers to bring their old binders in exchange for a $2 discount on the next binder purchase.

Other than engaging in a marker recycle program and sending back old binders for recycling, you can also devise your own marker recycling activities at home.

Ways to Recycle Markers at Home

Homemade Watercolors

Even though used markers would no longer work on paper, they still have inks left inside their tube. The best way to do it is to soak it with water for 24 hrs or longer.

Most children’s markers are water-based and adding water would easily extract the remaining colors. Use separate containers for every color.

This can be used for kids’ painting and other coloring activities. These are some of the fun ways you can do with the watercolor juice:

Method 1: DIY Dot Markers for Toddlers

This is a perfect tool to introduce different colors to your toddlers.


  • Small bottle that a toddler can handle
  • Used sponge
  • Glue gun and glue stick


  • Step 1: Cut a used sponge to fit the size of the bottle.
  • Step 2: Fill the bottle with watercolor juice.
  • Step 3: Glue and secure the sponge on the mouth of the bottle.

Method 2: Sensory Bottles


Sensory bottles are another way to entertain your babies and visually let them discover how things move with water. This can be used to add words to their vocabulary such as up, down, etc.


  • Tall bottle with cap.
  • Colorful beads, buttons, glitters, or anything that can fit in the bottle and can catch attention.
  • Glue or tape


  • Step 1: Put in the watercolor juice.
  • Step 2: Put the beads inside and add other details that your toddlers are interested in.
  • Step 3: Put on the cap and seal it with glue.
  • Note: The watercolor juice extracted from the markers is not edible and the details could be a choking hazard. Make sure to secure the seal to avoid toddlers from accidentally consuming the content.

Method 3: Color Mixing Activity


This activity can be used as an alternative to the traditional way of teaching children different colors. With this, children are more relaxed while learning colors through play.


  • Plastic cups
  • Small dishes
  • Plastic droppers
  • Color guide


  • Step 1: Fill the plastic cups halfway with watercolor juice. Use primary colors.
  • Step 2: Place a dropper on each cup.
  • Step 3: Provide kids with a color guide on what colors they have to mix to make secondary or tertiary colors. For example, blue plus yellow makes green, etc.
  • Step 4: Let them do the color mixing on the small dish.

Method 4: Salt and Watercolor Exercise


This cool exercise is good for preschoolers and a fun way to teach them how to trace. This exercise can also improve kids’ hand and eye coordination.


  • Salt
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Cardboard


  • Step 1: Let your kids design and form their names or patterns using glue on the cardboard. You can also do it for them.
  • Step 2: Sprinkle salt and let it stick
  • Step 3: Remove excess salt.
  • Step 4: Let them enjoy by applying watercolors using the paintbrush

Frequently Asked Questions

How to extend the life of your markers

To extend the life of your markers you have to store them properly. Heat is its number one enemy, especially for alcohol-based markers.

  • Always store them in a cool and dry area with the cap tightly closed. This will prevent the inks from drying out prematurely.
  • Another thing is the storage position. To avoid ink from pooling at the bottom or on one end, store them horizontally.
  • Keep it a habit to check your markers. Test the tip and put small alcohol in case they are drying out. To save money and reduce waste, choose markers that are refillable.

What else can you do with old markers?

Aside from recycling and making homemade watercolors, upcycling can take these used markers to another level.

Breathe new life with used markers by transforming them into wind chimes, jumping rope, pen holders, decors, and up to anywhere your creativity takes you.

Recycle pens and markers by using them as learning tools to teach kids different concepts. The colored caps can be utilized for color matching and counting exercises.

There are a lot of things you can do with old markers and throwing them away is not an option.


The majority of markers are made with plastics which could take hundreds of years before it degrades.

Luckily, several innovations on how can you recycle markers are now available to make things easier.

Recycling programs initiated by manufacturers are also a growing platform where recycling is greatly encouraged. This is the best option if you’re looking for a more sustainable solution.

There’s always something to do with old markers. Donate, recycle or repurpose them into something even more useful.

Next time a marker runs out of ink, make a better choice and don’t let them end up in the landfill.

5/5 - (3 votes)