Recycled drip bags will make 25,000 pairs of school shoes

More than 1 300 primary school learners of Chivirikani Primary School in Katlehong, near Johannesburg, received a pair of brand new school shoes made from non-hazardous, recycled PVC healthcare waste products.

This means these young learners will attend school this year in improved safety and comfort while proudly walking in shoes that have contributed towards reducing the country’s landfill waste burden and emission of greenhouse gasses.

A further 25 000 learners around the country will receive shoes during 2020 through the My Walk initiative, an innovative partnership between Netcare and Adcock Ingram Critical Care that is turning used, uncontaminated PVC intravenous drip bags, oxygen masks and associated tubing into shiny new school shoes, made from 100% recycled material.

The school shoes themselves are also 100% recyclable, with the exception of the laces.

Speaking at the launch of the My Walk initiative in Katlehong on Tuesday, the Chief Director: National and Provincial Communication in the Ministry of Basic Education, Elijah Mhlanga, welcomed the initiative.

Chivirikani Primary School principal Christopher Maluleke, added: “School shoes mean more than just completing the uniform. When children don’t have shoes, it can affect their personal dignity and self-esteem, which may negatively impact their school experience, academic performance and potentially hold them back from participating in games and sports.”

Chief executive officer of Netcare, Dr Richard Friedland, explains: “We found ourselves with tonnes of high-quality PVC waste, as drip bags, oxygen masks and associated tubing which can only be used once in a medical context. In the past, these used, non-hazardous and uncontaminated products ended up at landfills.

“The My Walk partnership is an example of embracing a circular economy. It shows how a green solution can fulfil a material need for a business while simultaneously benefiting society.”

Adcock Ingram critical care managing director, Colin Sheen adds: “Our partnership with Netcare in the My Walk initiative demonstrates the meaningful and wider impact that an innovative approach to solving business challenges can have. With nine more Netcare hospitals soon joining the 12 hospitals which are already participating, we are excited about increasing the number of shoes manufactured significantly over the next few years.”

Furthermore, there is potential to exponentially expand the number of school shoes that can be produced if other private and public sector hospitals join us in this worthy initiative,” notes Sheen.

Just 20 drip bags are needed to make one pair of new school shoes. This initiative is sustainable over the long term, also offering environmental benefits, enterprise development and job creation opportunities.

What a fantastic idea.

We must all congratulate those who have made this happen, and perhaps find ways to offering support to this incredible initiative that puts shoes on feet and smiles on faces!

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