Design and innovation practice Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) recently unveiled what it claims to be the world’s first fully compostable marker. Scribit Pen cartridges are made of natural fibers and contain non-toxic, water-based ink.

child drawing with biodegradable marker

Scribit Pen aims to help address the issue of plastic pollution, so each component making up this compostable marker is completely eco-friendly. In addition to its natural fiber cartridges, the main barrel of the marker is made of biodegradable plastic, and the non-toxic ink is so safe, you could eat it. The design was inspired by CRA’s eponymous drawing robot (named one of the best inventions of 2019 by Time magazine) that uses markers to draw visual content on vertical surfaces.

Related: Green Box — a hotel amenity kit made of compostable plastic

biodegradable markers with wood, metal and bioplastic cases

“We are proud of Scribit’s success, and how it has empowered thousands of people around the world to change the way they draw,” said Carlo Ratti, who led the Scribit Pen design team. “However we were troubled by the amount of plastic produced by the markers that the robot uses. By developing the new Scribit pen, we can turn one of humankind’s primordial acts — drawing — into a fully sustainable one.” According to the company, the global marker industry sends more than 35 billion plastic markers into landfills each year, an amount that could cover Manhattan over 11 times.

diagram of natural materials used to make biodegradable marker

The pen barrel can be used indefinitely, as the internal components are replaceable. Buyers will have a choice between wood, bioplastic and anodized aluminum for the barrel material. These important features promote a circular economy, which replaces the “take-make-waste” linear model.

biodegradable marker components on white background

CRA has worked on several other sustainable projects in product design and architecture in the past, such as the Italian Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020, which uses recycled components like orange peels and coffee grounds for construction materials, and the Circular Garden at Milan Design Week 2019, which was made from mycelium. The Scribit Pen project is currently under development, but those interested can stay updated by signing up for the newsletter.

+ Scribit

Images via CRA

lineup of markers with wood cases