© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Turning bread tags into wheelchairs

Emma Turton

In mid-February Kelly Vollenhoven set up the New Zealand arm of 'Bread Tags for Wheelchairs'.

The volunteer-run organisation started in Cape Town in 2006  collecting plastic tags which close bread bags, and selling them to recycling company Zibo. The money is used to purchase basic wheelchairs for South Africans who cannot afford them. Zibo also turns the tags into seedling trays and other items.

After seeing someone in Australia running 'Bread Tags for Wheelchairs' Vollenhoven decided to take the leap and officially set it up here.

Vollenhoven is the behind-the-scenes woman, setting up collection points throughout the country and organising people who can take the bread tags to South Africa in their luggage.

"It's a really good way to engage people in more than just an environmental issue," Anthea Madill, Christchurch collection point for bread tags said.

"Ideally we don't want to keep shipping them overseas in people's luggage, the first priority is to get them recycled here," Vollenhoven said. From her own research she has not yet found a recycling company here which meets the needs of the organisation, but she is actively looking for one to provide a solution.

Vollenhoven and her family will be taking around 60 kilograms of bread tags to South Africa this year, but she admits she cannot be the sole traveler.

"It's a challenge to find people to take them over, we would love to have a database of people that travel regularly," she said. 

One kilogram is equal to 2,720 bread tags but she believes it's not hard to collect them, as most households eat a couple of loaves of bread per week. It takes 200 kilograms to fund a wheelchair.

"People don't need to go out of their way, [to collect them] it's keeping the bread tags out of landfill and helping someone in need," Vollenhoven said.


For further information go to https://www.facebook.com/nzbreadtags/