From one 16 ounce single-use plastic bottle, Pilot Pen makes two refillable, recyclable pens—in four colors.
The B2P, or “Bottle to Pen,” is composed of 89% recycled post consumer product.
To date, Pilot has sold more than 2.5 million B2Ps in the United States and some 12 million in Europe in just two years, according to Robert Silberman, vice president of marketing for Pilot Pen Corporation of America. The B2P is “a clear success so far,” he added.
I agree. It’s taken more than 7 million used plastic bottles, made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and upcycled them into something useful and provocative.
“Cool,” is what most people say when I show them.
Except for one devil’s advocate, he thought it was rather commercial. So I contacted Pilot on a whim, (brownie points for being so accessible and communicative for a blog piece,) and found the proof is indeed in the penning.
Changing a Pen Giant’s Production
The addition of B2P replaced a percentage of virgin material in Pilot Pen’s overall manufacturing.
“Our long-term plan/goal is to expand our overall B2P brand and expand our overall BeGreeN recycled line of products. This will mean more use of recycled PET and less use of virgin materials,” said Silberman.
While production of the pen does however constitute an 11% need for virgin plastic, compared to others making pens from 100% virgin plastic, 11% is not too shabby for one of the largest and most widely distributed pen labels.
The B2P is my new BF. It’s comfortable to write with. Though I use sugar cane byproduct, recycled, and used paper, I admit to regularly taking handwritten notes and fleshing out ideas long-hand.
Perhaps I both date and implicate myself, but there is something to be said for working offline and saving energy.
I find the B2P’s supple, molded texture very comfortable. Maybe I have always been a Pilot girl—I remember spending my 5th grade allowance at the old Pad & Pen store on the Nigi Grip mechanical pencil (which um, my engineer father managed to commandeer) and other Pilot writing implement innovations. Signature of Pilot quality, the ink rolls along and dries quickly. No stains on my pinkie as I write feverishly across a page.
Pilot’s ink, which is made of a proprietary recipe Silberman couldn’t share, is said to be non-toxic. The main ingredient is water. I love that I can change colors when it runs out—blue, black, my trademark green, and the writer’s favorite, scolding teacher red.
Destined for Green Success
Sales of B2P are expected to more than triple this year as product is distributed nationwide, said Silberman.
That means more upcycled plastic bottles from the ubiquitous and gluttonous American bottle stream. “If we assume 8 million pens sold, that’s 4 million bottles that went to good use,” he said.
Amen, though it’s a small dent. Americans use 2.5 billion single-use bottles (according to the Oberlin College Resource Conservation Team) annually and only about 27% are recycled. But I’m not one to look down upon what some might consider comparatively small savings–I believe they can add up.
“Because B2P uses recycled PET from plastic bottles, there is a tremendous environmental savings vs. starting with oil and converting to plastic to mold a product,” Silberman said.
“It’s really impossible to put an exact carbon footprint savings on it,” he said, but “plastic bottles constitute close to 50% of all recyclable waste…and recycled plastic takes 80% less energy to produce than virgin plastic.”
Note there are caveats. Pilot is putting the responsibility for both the B2P’s longevity and its entrance back into the recycle stream on the consumer.
While 2-3% of pens sold are refilled, according to Silberman, “we expect a higher percentage related to B2P.” And as far as end-of-life, it’s up to consumers to turn in broken or unwanted B2Ps into municipal pickup bins.
Well I can handle it. Where do my B2P and I sign?