Taking a proactive approach to reducing environmental issues can change the world, one crayon at a time.

crayon-recycling.jpg You may be surprised how many items you use on a frequent basis that can actually be recycled. Crayons are one of those items that people often discard in the trash, but they can easily be recycled. Crayon recycling was introduced by the National Crayon Recycle Program, which was created to keep more than 45,000 pounds of crayons from ending up in landfills. The NCRP takes old, rejected and broken crayons and recycles them into new ones using a simple process that can further benefit children across the country. Since the rise in crayon-recycling knowledge, many facilities have opened their doors to provide more opportunities for you to recycle in order to benefit the life of child. So, before you discard your art tools into the trash bin, make a conscious decision to further the lifespan of the crayon in the hands of a new young artist. Taking a proactive approach to reducing environmental issues can change the world, one crayon at a time.

Materials in crayons

Crayons have always been made of paraffin, which is a waxy substance that comes from wood, coal or petroleum. Paraffin was originally produced in 1867, and by the early 1900s, the crayon was the newest innovative artistic tool. The first iteration consisted of black crayons and was sold strictly to factories and manufacturing plants. Europe introduced colored crayons by adding pigments to the paraffin, but due to toxic ingredients, they too were not suitable for children’s use. In 1903, the first box of eight colored crayons for children debuted and has been a hit ever since. Since paraffin is made from petroleum, an oil-based product, every crayon can be fully recycled, and with more than 12 million crayons made in the U.S. every day, 60 tons of petroleum-based wax crayons have the possibility of ending up landfills despite being so easy to recycle! Since all petroleum products take years to biodegrade, it is crucial to start reusing and recycling the color back into this product.

Environmental concerns about crayons

All crayons that are sold in the U.S. are nontoxic to ensure the safety of the children who use them. Although they are nontoxic, discarding recyclable materials into the garbage takes up unnecessary space in landfills. In addition, the energy used in the factories to shred, melt and create new crayon products also creates pollution. Fortunately, one of the largest crayon companies, Crayola, has refined its green operations by purchasing a new facility to be powered by 1.9 megawatts of clean, renewable solar energy — enough power for approximately 1,500 average-sized American homes. This will make up 10% of the factory’s annual electricity usage and will prevent 1,900 tons of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, annually while cutting dependence of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Keep in mind that there are still several other companies that have not adapted an eco-conscious way of manufacturing their crayons, so the environmental concerns are still prominent. Waxy sludge does not have to be sitting in landfills around the country for centuries to come.

Recycling crayons

The process of recycling crayons can be completed in households around the world because it is extremely simple. The first step to recycling crayons is to gather all of the bits and studs of old crayons. They are then separated by color in the recycling facility and later boosted with more pigment to emphasize the tone. The crayon bits are then shredded down into small pieces and placed in an oven under extreme heat in the factories (DIYers, you can try this at home using a preheated oven at 250º F). Once the wax has melted, it is poured into molds that shape the crayons, and once chilled, they are removed from their molds and are ready to be used. Since the environmental concerns associated with crayons have been highly recognized, several companies have opted to create eco-friendly versions of this children’s crafting tool. However, paraffin crayons are still the most popular choice and we must commit to recycling them to deter them from mounting up in landfills. Gather the kids and do a DIY recycling project, or donate your crayons to a local facility that will recycle them for you.