Bread tags: From little  things big things grow

January 17th, 2021Bread tags: From little things big things grow

BREAD tags, those pesky coloured plastic squares used to close bags of bread, are in high demand. From Woodend, and all across Australia, they are collected and recycled to fund wheelchairs for disadvantaged South Africans.

What started as a brainstorm by retired South African nurse Mary Honeybun in 2006 expanded into Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs when South African migrant Jenny Cooper established a national collection system in this country in 2018.
The Woodend Library became the 200th collection point in July 2019.
Library manager Lulu Cockram, pictured, tells the story of one of the library staff visiting Transmutation, a plastic recycling workshop and retail outlet in Robe, South Australia.

“She bought one of the bowls that co-owner Brad Scott made from recycling the bread tags, and we displayed it in the library,” Lulu said.The idea was to show the library’s visitors what happens when something small and everyday, like a plastic bread tag, is collected and changed into something useful, such as a bowl.

Lulu said the community’s response had been very positive.
“An activity such as the bread tag collection bucket we have on our recycling bench is our way of promoting the ‘Libraries Changes Lives’ message,” Lulu said.
“It is quite rewarding in our roles in the library to encounter this level of engagement.
“We tell library visitors if they are going to Robe to drop in and see Brad.”
The Australian charity sells the collected tags to Transmutation. The money raised is sent to South Africa to purchase the wheelchairs.
Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs founder Jenny Cooper said it takes 200kg of tags to pay for an entry-level wheelchair.
“It is the local communities that make our organisation succeed,” Jenny said.
“We can’t do it without them.”
There are now 460 collection points in Australia recycling a total of 100kg of tags per month.
Ironically, in November 2020, Tip Top Bakeries announced its transition to 100 per cent recycled and recyclable cardboard bread tags.
Tip Top will phase in the cardboard tags nationally over the next two years, eliminating over 400 million plastic ones per year, as part of its sustainability initiative for all packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
Rather than seeing Tip Top’s elimination of plastic bread tags as unfavourable to the Aussie Bread Tags for Wheelchairs cause, Jenny Cooper applauds its decision.
“I think this is a fantastic move for the environment,” she said.
“We will continue recycling while plastic tags are still around.”

Words: Carol Saffer | Image: Contributed

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