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The Iconic BIC Cristal: A Legacy of Innovation and Sustainability

The BIC Cristal, also known as the Bic Biro, stands as an iconic symbol of practicality and ingenuity in the world of writing instruments. Introduced in 1950 by Société Bic of Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France, this inexpensive and disposable ballpoint pen has become the best-selling pen globally, with its 100 billionth unit sold in September 2006. Recognized for its ubiquitous presence and timeless design, the BIC Cristal is even part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection.

BIC Cristal Original Black or Blue Ballpoint Pens Medium Point 1.0mm

The History of the BIC Cristal

The journey of the BIC Cristal began in 1930 when Hungarian inventor László Bíró observed children playing with marbles in a puddle, leaving trails of water behind. This simple observation inspired Bíró to conceptualize a pen with a ball-shaped metal nib. Teaming up with his chemist brother György, they developed a pen using a viscous ink and a rotating ball tip that controlled the ink flow and prevented drying.

After presenting their invention at the Budapest International Fair in 1931 and patenting it in 1938, the Bíró brothers emigrated to Argentina during World War II, where they continued refining their product. A significant breakthrough came when they secured a contract with the British Air Force, which significantly boosted their pen's popularity. In 1943, they licensed their invention to Eversharp Faber in the United States for $2 million.

Entrepreneur Marcel Bich acquired the rights in 1944 and, by the end of World War II, founded the BIC Group with business partner Edouard Buffard. Utilizing advanced Swiss technology, Bich developed an improved ink formula and a stainless steel ball tip that ensured a smooth and reliable writing experience. In December 1950, the BIC Cristal was officially launched, revolutionizing the writing instrument industry.

Sustainability Efforts by BIC

Continuing its legacy of innovation, BIC remains committed to sustainability and social responsibility. In 2024, BIC released its 2023 Sustainability Report, marking 20 years of significant environmental and social impact. The report highlights BIC's dedication to sustainable business practices and environmental stewardship.

Key highlights from the 2023 Sustainability Report include:

  • Reduction of Emissions: BIC achieved a 72% reduction in scope 1 & 2 emissions compared to 2022 levels.

  • Renewable Energy Usage: The company is on track to reach 91% renewable energy usage across all sites by 2025.

  • Eco-Friendly Products: BIC's Environmentally and Socially Measurable Advantage (EMA) tool has enhanced the eco-friendliness of their products, with all primary stationery lines now offering at least one item made with alternative, more environmentally friendly materials.

  • Innovative Recycling: BIC has introduced first-of-their-kind lighter recycling machines, showcasing their commitment to reducing waste.

Gonzalve Bich, CEO of BIC, expressed confidence in the company's ability to drive long-term growth and deliver value responsibly and sustainably. The full Sustainability Report 2023 is available on

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