Recycling Technology

Plastic bottle caps and bread tags for wheelchairs 

I first heard of re-purposing plastics milk bottle caps and bread tags from a work colleague. What stood out for me was how a small change in one’s routine can have a huge social impact and change people’s lives by improving mobility for disabled people through donations of wheelchairs made from recycled bread tags and plastic bottle caps. The High Impact Polystyrene (HIP) in the bread tags and bottle caps is valuable for recycling because of its high density and it is easy to process, sturdy and durable1. These properties make HIP ideal for making items such as coat hangers, cutlery and bottles. Bottle caps from milk, water and cool drink bottles can also be recycled and again it is the total weight of the HIP that matters.

So how many bread tags or plastic bottle caps does it take to make one wheelchair? The answer is 200 kilograms or 200 bread bags packed full. This sounds like it’s a lot but to put this into perspective, in 2003 the bread production in South Africa was 2 800 million loaves2. For argument’s sake let’s say each person consumes one loaf of bread each week, four people would need to collect tags for a year to raise enough tags for one wheelchair. The time frame can be reduced further with more people joining the movement and reducing the amount of bread tags and plastic bottle caps that are land-filled.

How can you contribute?

Whether you are an individual, corporate or independent organisation, you can contribute to these causes by collecting bread tags and or plastic tags and taking them to the various collection points. For more information contact the following organisations:

Breadtags for Wheelchairs 

The Sweethearts Foundation

Cited Works

  1. Polystyrene Packaging
  2. SACB

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