The World’s First Compostable Marker

Barrel composed of biodegradable plastic, the nibs and cartridges made of natural fibers, and the non-toxic (even edible) ink

CRA unveils the design of Scribit Pen, the world’s first fully compostable marker. The pen uses cartridges made of natural fibers and filled with water-based, non-toxic (even edible) ink. Scribit Pen aims to promote a transition towards sustainability and circularity in an industry that sends over 35 billion plastic markers to landfills every year.

International design and innovation company CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati has just unveiled Scribit Pen, the world’s first fully compostable marker. Developed for tech company Scribit, the new pen addresses the issue of plastic pollution produced by the global marker industry. Every component of Scribit Pen is eco-friendly: the barrel composed of biodegradable plastic, the nibs and cartridges made of natural fibers, and the non-toxic (even edible) ink.


202011 Scribit PEN CRA 4


CRA designed Scribit Pen for Scribit, its eponymous drawing robot – recently named by Time magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2019. The write & erase robot uses markers to draw visual content on any vertical surface — bringing digital designs to physical walls.

“We are proud of Scribit’s success, and how it has empowered thousands of people around the world to change the way they draw,” says Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, 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.”

Approximately 35 billion plastic markers end up in landfills annually, an amount that could cover the island of Manhattan more than 11 times. Scribit approached CRA to develop a more sustainable marker, one that might help transition the entire art supply industry toward a more environmentally friendly model.

Scribit Pen is eco-friendly in all its components. The pen barrel is available in wood, bioplastic, and anodized aluminum. Inside it lies a natural fiber ink cartridge and nib. These internal components are replaceable, so the same barrel can be used indefinitely. The water-based, non-toxic Super Washable Ink is high performance and non-toxic to such an extent that it is certified as edible. The project aims to address Scribit’s commitment to promoting a circular economy: a sustainable approach to production and consumption which aspires to replace the “take-make-waste” linear model.

Scribit Pen follows CRA’s ongoing research on circularity in product design and architecture. For example, the Italian Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020, designed by CRA and Italo Rota with Matteo Gatto and F&M Ingegneria, employs recycled components such as orange peels and coffee grounds as construction materials. Other projects include the prize-winning Circular Garden at Milan Design Week 2019, which used mycelium from mushrooms as a building material.


CRA Carlo Ratti Associati, press release, 2020-11-10.


Carlo Ratti Associati


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