What’s the story behind the organisation?
Bread Tags for Wheelchairs has been running in South Africa since 2006. After Mary Honeybun, who started the organisation, retired from a long and successful nursing career she found that she could not ‘retire’ from her passion to help people.
During her nursing career she realised how important it is, both physically and emotionally, for a person disabled by an accident or a medical condition, to have the mobility that a wheelchair gives them. She also learnt how much the burden on the family and carers of a disabled person is eased if the disabled person has this mobility. Furthermore she was aware that the majority of people in need of wheelchairs in South Africa were often unable to afford to buy their own. So she decided that she would put her efforts into providing them.
She also felt strongly that she wanted to work for a charity where all of the funds raised went into providing for the needy rather than into the administrative costs of the charity. In addition, she wanted to reach out to people of all races and creeds.
Her fourth priority was that it should be something that was environmentally friendly.
And so, after many hours of research, Mary came up with the idea of recycling bread tags, which usually go into landfill, and using the funds to provide wheelchairs. The rest, as they say, is history!
In South Africa a plastics company, Zibo, buys the bread tags for a small amount per kilo. The tags (high impact polystyrene, type 6 plastic) are recycled, being made into seedling trays. The proceeds are used to provide wheelchairs for the needy. At present about 500kg are collected per month in South Africa, funding 2 wheelchairs.
People who were aware of this program had been collecting tags for this cause in Australia for many years and either taking the tags to South Africa when they visited, or posting them. In September 2018, we set up an Aussie arm of Bread Tags for Wheelchairs in order to promote the program, increase collection, look into local recycling and streamline the transport of the tags.
In February 2019, we delivered our first batch of tags to our Australian recycler, Transmutation – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, who are based in Robe in South Australia. They now take monthly consignments of tags from us, and all bread tags collected in Australia are recycled locally. The funds raised are regularly remitted to South Africa to buy wheelchairs.
While still primarily funding wheelchairs in South Africa, by mid-2021 we had sufficient funds through recycling and donations to spread our focus wider. We now also fund wheelchairs for children in other countries through collaboration with Wheelchairs for Kids in WA. See our Gallery and News pages for details.