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Schoolchildren urge Crayola to rethink recycling

Sunday, May 20, 2012 | 3:59 p.m. CDT; updated 3:26 p.m. CDT, Monday, May 21, 2012

KANSAS CITY — A group of California grade school students wants Crayola to start a recycling program for spent plastic markers, but the company doesn't appear ready to make such a move.

About 40 students at Sun Valley elementary school in San Rafael, Calif., have been promoting an online petition aimed at nudging Crayola, a subsidiary of Kansas City-based Hallmark, into developing a "take-back" program for used-up markers.

Principal Julie Harris said Wednesday that the student group has been meeting at lunchtime for a couple weeks to discuss the project and monitor the petition's progress. The petition on Change.org had more than 60,000 signatures by Saturday.

The students plan to present the petition to Crayola, Harris said.

"I don't think they thought they were going to get there so quickly," she said. "They were hoping the Crayola company would take notice of it."

Crayola has, but spokeswoman Stacy Gabrielle said in an email that while the crayon maker encourages "children to share their ideas," the company has no plans to offer a recycling program for its markers.

She said Crayola does not have "the facilities or a process" for a recycling program, but that the markers' caps can be recycled at facilities that take that type of plastic. She also said because of the contents of the markers, the company doesn't recommend recycling them.

"Because only the marker plastic is recyclable, not the ink reservoir or the tip, we do not recommend that consumers recycle the markers themselves," she said. "It would require the removal of the nib and reservoir which could create small parts, a choking hazard to small children."

Crayola is, however, "very committed to doing our part to take care of the environment," Gabrielle said. She said Crayola uses solar energy to manufacture about 1 billion of the 3 billion crayons it makes each year and its markers are made with recycled plastic.

Land Wilson, the Sun Valley school parent who helped the students with the petition, said Thursday he's not discouraged by the company's response and hopes the company will reconsider.

"We're moving forward," Wilson said. "We love Crayola. This is all a very positive thing. ... (The kids) want to keep using their products, but they want to be green."


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