It takes about 200 kilograms of bread bag tags to purchase a basic wheelchair. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
From plastic waste to wheels, a group of New Zealanders are helping turn bread bag tags into wheelchairs.
Bread Tags for Wheelchairs started in Cape Town, South Africa almost 15 years ago, recycling plastic waste and selling it to purchase wheelchairs for those in need.
Auckland based, Bread Tags for Wheelchairs NZ volunteer Kelly Vollenhoven came upon the initiative while living in South Africa for three years.
“It started with me throwing out a bread tag and being told off by my mother-in-law,” she said.
Coming back to New Zealand last year Vollenhoven kept up the habit of collecting bread bag tags, encouraging friends and family to do so also.
When her husband returned to his native South Africa for a visit, he took with him the 18 kilograms worth of bread bag tags which had been collected.
“For a basic wheelchair it takes about 200kg of bread bag tags,” she said.
In February, Vollenhoven decided to launch a nationwide collection scheme.
“For me it was the social aspect – this is one-way people can give back and its not about giving money,” she said. “The bread bag tags are the money.
“Definitely the recycling is also a big part of it.”
There are more than 100 collection points around New Zealand now, with three central hubs in Auckland, Wellington and Ashburton.
While the bread bag tags collected are sent to South Africa for processing, Vollenhoven said she hoped to be able to recycle them here soon to cut down on their carbon footprint.
Two collection points have also been set up in Wairarapa.
Lakeview School teacher aide Kim McKinley said, “in this day and age it was pretty much unavoidable to buy plastic” so it was important to recycle.
“We should be doing as much recycling as we can,” she said.
“It’s such an easy thing kids can do, and it doesn’t impact [financially] on anyone.”
The school had already helped collect close to 10 kilograms through programmes like their Breakfast Club.
Karyn Carter, who runs the Doggy Treats stall at local markets, also takes collections.
Bread tags can be dropped off at the Lakeview School office in Masterton during school hours.
Collections can also be taken to Carter at the Featherston Weekly Market from 8am to 2pm every Saturday, as well as at the Greytown Country Market and Te Kairanga Farmers Market.
Tags from potato bags and orange bags can also be recycled.