NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — All those markers being bought up for the new school year will eventually run dry, but that doesn’t have to be the end of their usefulness.
Niagara Falls manufacturer JBI Inc. this week announced an agreement with Crayola to take in castoffs from schools and the crayon-maker and convert them to fuel.
As part of Easton-based Crayola’s “ColorCycle” program, Crayola will pay the shipping for schools to send any brand of used markers to JBI.
Crayola also will send its manufacturing overruns to the western New York plant.
JBI executives said the four-year-old company uses an environmentally friendly, cost-effective process to convert waste plastics into diesel and other liquid fuels that need no refinement before being used or bought by distributors who can blend them with additives to make gasoline.
The company produced 317,000 gallons of fuel last year, they said, using things like shampoo and pill bottles, coffee containers, paint buckets and other dense polyethylene that, unlike water and soda bottles, often isn’t recycled.
“Partnering with Crayola is a unique opportunity for our company,” JBI founder John Bordynuik said. “We look forward to a relationship that reduces the amount of plastic entering landfills while also creating cleaner, lower sulphur fuels.”
Crayola did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
JBI declined to speculate on how many markers it might take in. On its website, Crayola said it makes 500 million markers a year at its solar-powered Easton facility.
Crayola is encouraging school parent-teacher organizations in the United States and parts of Canada to register for the recycling program and set up collection stations. The company also has drafted lesson plans for teachers, saying classrooms can explore eco-friendly practices and energy conversion.
Last year, a group of California school students petitioned Crayola, a subsidiary of Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark, to start a recycling program for spent plastic markers. The petition on Change.org drew 91,942 supporters.