Pen recycling scheme grabs attention of Telford councillors
A plastic reduction task force in Telford is spreading ideas about how to re-use and recycle the material, and one pen recycling idea is already impressing councillors.
Teaching assistant Susanne Bearblock runs the Eco Committee at Hollinswood Primary School, and was asked to join the Telford and Wrekin Single Use Plastic Free Task Force.
She presented a pen collection and recycling service to the task force, which Oakengates town councillor John Ellis said made him ask “Why haven’t we thought of that before?”
He is now hoping to establish a pen collection at the local council’s headquarters.
Last summer, Telford & Wrekin Council declared a “climate emergency” and committed to become free of single-use plastic by 2023.
Reporting back on the task force meeting, Councillor Ellis told Oakengates Town Council: “There are certainly ideas we could use.
“One that I have asked them to provide is about pens. We all throw them away when they stop working. There is a lady who has taken it upon herself to collect them.
“They provide a plastic bucket – I’ve got some of my own and I will provide one, if you like. When you have got a pen and it fails, don’t bin it: Put it in there and it goes for recycling.
“That is one idea, of the many that we heard there, where I thought ‘That is useful, why haven’t we thought about that before?’”
Mrs Bearblock said: “We joined the Terracycle writing instruments programme in 2016. Groups and individuals are very welcome to collect writing instruments to send to us for inclusion in our shipments.
“I told Councillor Ellis, and other meeting attendees, that the children at Hollinswood Primary could provide a pen collection bucket. However, anyone can put together their own container to collect used pens.”
Templates for posters and stickers are available at Terracycle’s website, as well as the locations of other collection points.
Mrs Bearblock, who has a master’s degree in environmental sustainability and green technology and is a level-three forest school leader, said she was asked by council commercial services chief Fliss Mercer to join the task force.
“She contacted my school as she had heard that we were doing interesting environmental activities,” Mrs Bearblock said.
“My headteacher asked me if I would have the time to volunteer and I was happy to do so.”
Hollinswood Primary School’s eco committee was set up nine years ago, and its activities include pen, battery and paper recycling, “minibeast surveys” and participation in the RSPB Birdwatch count, and writing to milk suppliers and supermarkets to ask them to reduce their use of plastic packaging.