A picnic table, a bench or a planter … Since October, the writing products brand has been marketing a range of outdoor furniture made from recycled pens, called Ubicuity. What if your recycled pens were to be found in your garden?
An ink cartridge, a ballpoint, a lightweight polished plastic shaft: the ballpoint pen, like Baron Marcel Bich’s previous inventions – the disposable razor and lighter – has been used by generations of schoolchildren. But what becomes of the millions of Bic pens sold around the world, once the ink has dried up? A huge pile of waste, since until recently, the writing instruments were not part of any organised recycling channel.
For several years now, the Bic group has been trying to give a second life to its used plastic pens (felt-tips, markers, pencils …). Back in 2009, it released the first eco-friendly disposable razor, a three-blade with a corn-based organic plastic handle and packaging printed with plant dyes. Today, the company is breaking new ground with a range of outdoor furniture.
With one particularity: all the furniture is made from recycled pens, gathered in a huge collection programme in schools and supermarkets.
From pens to benches
Using 4,800 pens (!) for one bench, Bic distributes this range under the name Ubicuity. Main target audience? Schools, colleges and high schools “to raise awareness of the need for recycling from an early age”. For now, the collection consists of seven models: benches for high school students, school benches, small planters, picnic tables (designed using 16,300 recycled pens), but also round-tree benches and public benches. According to the manufacturer, these products have two main strong points: high weather resistance and a low maintenance cost.
An example of a voluntary circular economy, all the more salutary considering there is no legal framework that currently forces companies to recycle, as is the case for cars or cooking oil. But every year, 11.8 million tonnes of used plastic are exported worldwide for processing. A stalemate has been reached … because China, which recycles nearly 9 million tons of this material per year, has just announced that it will no longer deal with this type of waste.
Tags: BIC, circular economy, plastic, recycling, street furniture