A decade of touching lives with Breadtags

In August, the Breadtags for Wheelchairs project celebrated a decade of improving the lives of wheelchair users with a tea party in honour of the coordinators and collectors in Stellenbosch. The event was sponsored by SASKO and the Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC).

The brand manager of Essential Foods Bakeries division at Pioneer Foods, Lungie Mnyamana, noted: “SASKO is proud to be associated with the Breadtags for Wheelchairs project, because it resonates with our core values of caring for others and looking after the environment. It is easy for everybody to get involved in the collection of bread tags, and makes a huge difference in the lives of many.”

According to PSPC director Adri Spangenberg, more than 3 000 wheelchairs over the past 10 years have been donated to people who were unable to buy their own wheelchairs.

“The Breadtags for Wheelchairs project has grown from humble beginnings in somebody’s home in Cape Town to a volunteer effort involving thousands of volunteers around the country. Today, we are proud to say that we managed to divert more than four tonnes of polystyrene from our country’s landfills thanks to the companies that buy the bread tags made from high density polystyrene, more than 200 collection points and 1 000 coordinators who assist with the bread tag collection,” Spangenberg said.

The Breadtags for Wheelchairs network is made up of volunteer collectors and coordinators, who diligently accumulate approximately 210 kg of bread tags from schools, churches, businesses and community centres in in their area in order to buy a standard wheelchair, costing around R1 600.

It also comprises a network of buyers such as Zibo Containers and MFI Mouldings, who pay R8 for each kilogram of bread tags that are collected. These tags are recycled into seedling trays, cornices, skirtings, outdoor furniture, coat hangers, poles and decking. The PSPC brought these two parties together and administers the programme by arranging for the bread tags to be collected and receives the payment from the recyclers.

Once enough tags have been collected to cover the cost of a wheelchair, a wheelchair is bought for a person in need. The PSPC works closely with CE Mobility and the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) in assessing the requirements of the recipient to ensure they get the right wheelchair for their needs.

“Our work has been significantly strengthened thanks to corporates such as SASKO, CE Mobility, QASA and Dischem, which have provided additional funding, infrastructure, expertise and advice. Without their help, we would never have been able to grow the project to where it stands today,” Spangenberg said.

Various coordinators and collectors received certificates in recognition for their efforts at the event and a wheelchair was also handed over to Theresa Ellis, a grateful recipient from the Alta Du Toit Care Centre.

“Not only has the small act of collecting bread tags touched the lives of the wheelchair users, but it has changed the lives of each and every one of us involved in the project. Our sincere thanks to the thousands of collectors and coordinators who are involved in the project, as well as the companies who have come alongside us to help administer and grow the project. We look forward to growing the project even further during the next 10 years,” Spangenberg concluded.

For more information on how to get involved in the Breadtags for Wheelchair project, visit www.polystyrenepackaging.co.za or visit the Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/#!/groups/btagsforwchairs

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