Paper Mate Biodegradable Mechanical PencilMirel, a biodegradable plastic made from plant derived sugar feedstock, which is currently primarily corn sugar. Now just in case you are worried, the pencil should not deteriorate from contact with skin, moisture, etc. It needs a high level microbial environment like that found in soil to degrade. Paper Mate have a website about all of this.
Well, the first thing that strikes me about the Papermate Biodegrable mechanical pencil is that it’s dull. The main body is off-white and the grip, top section and pocket clip are a light green colour. The surface finish is matt. Well strictly speaking there is a hint of sheen, but not much. The off-white body section actually sort of looks like it could be made of something “eco” like compressed cotton dust or milk powder. I wasn’t sure if this uninspiring look was due to some limitations of the biodegradable plastic, but it appears not. The small Paper Mate double-heart logo does have a gloss surface finish, and the Mirel website implies the plastic can be coloured in a full spectrum of colours, so off-white and pale insipid green, dull matt surface finish, it’s all a deliberate choice …there’s no eye-candy here! Austere eco-green only.
Another comment about the plastic body is that it seeemd to attract more than it's fair share of dirty marks, graphite powder, etc. Perhaps its just that the surface finish and colour made them show up more than usual?
The mechanical pencil is currently available in 0.5mm and 0.7mm versions. There is also an ink pen version as well.
Lets pick this pencil up. The rubber grip is round in cross section but with a contoured profile. At 11 – 12mm diameter it qualifies as a reasonably wide grip. It has a series of curving grooved lines moulded into it, which are primarily aesthetic rather than functional. The grip material is firm but reasonably grippy to the touch.
The lead sleeve is a short retractable cone so the pencil is pocket safe. When writing, if you allow the lead to wear down and the sleeve to start sliding back up it seems a fairly stiff sleeve and your writing will become noticeably lighter.
The lead advance mechanism is a standard push top ratchet system. Ten clicks will get you a whopping great 13mm of the 0.7mm lead. That’s a huge incremental advance. Actually it’s almost too much. If you do a double click you might end up snapping your lead because you have advanced too much.
The pocket clip is integrally moulded as part of the top section. For a moulded plastic pocket clip it is quite strong and functional, definitely better than most. Also up at the top end of the pencil is the eraser. It is housed beneath a clear transparent cap that has a very tight push fit onto the eraser mount. Sometimes I struggled to get the cap off the eraser! It is also basically impossible to put the eraser cap back on without activating the lead advance mechanism. At 7mm diameter and with 4mm of usable length as housed, the eraser is bigger than emergency use, but is not big enough for frequent heavy use. The compound is reasonably efficient at erasing, but it doesn’t challenge Staedtler Mars Plastic. You pull the eraser out to access the lead refill magazine which is quite a wide diameter so you can decent number of sticks of lead down there.
Markings on the main body of the pencil are “Papermate (some sort of eco friendly leaf logo) 0.7mm”. The Paper Mate double heart logo is moulded into two opposite sides of the top section, and in small lettering at the base of the pocket clip is “China”.
• Best Points – You've got to give them points for the biodegradability, but I know how hard it is to assess eco-friendly qualities through the whole product creation chain.
• Not So Good Points – It looks uninspiring.
• Price Range – Economy.
• Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – No
Dimensions – Length 145mm, diameter 12mm at widest point of grip. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.
This Paper Mate Biodegradable mechanical pencil was supplied by Euroffice, an office supplies specialist in the UK, in exchange for a review of the pencil and an acknowledgement.
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