A Halstead primary school has become one of the first in the country to sign up to a new scheme aimed at recycling plastic pens and pencils.

Richard de Clare Academy, in Parsonage Street, has teamed up with pen-makers BIC and joined the Community Champion scheme in a bid to cut down on the number of writing instruments being set aside as landfill.

Pupils and staff at the school now access to a collection box where they can put empty or broken pens waiting to be recycled.

The scheme will also help Richard de Clare to raise funds for new indoor and outdoor playing equipment.

Teacher Carmen Gardener said: “The passion and enthusiasm from our pupils about the environment is extraordinary and children have been as eager to recycle pens from home as they have been about the pens at school.

“Whilst we have a good existing network of pupils, their families and friends collecting for us already we hope that becoming one of the first BIC Community Champions and the collections from the East of England Co-op public access collection box will really help take our recycling efforts to another level.”

The existing recycling scheme run by Braintree Council does not include writing instruments and means empty pens and pencils are categorised as regular waste.

Members of the public will also reap the benefits of the partnership between Richard de Clare and BIC as another collection point has now been set up in the East of England Co op store in Weavers Court.

All pens left in collection boxes will be shipped off to expert recyclers, TerraCycle, which will use the plastic material to make everyday products such as watering cans, garden benches and waste bins.

Ms Gardner added: “The Halstead, Braintree and surrounding communities can really help boost our recycling efforts and the amount of funds we raise for the school by dropping off any used pens to our public access recycling box.

"We also ask that you help us by spreading the word to any locations using pens on a large scale like schools, colleges or local businesses.”