8 000 learners, unemployed gain from billboard recycling campaign

22nd March 2013

Petrochemicals company BP’s first Ads to Bags donation, which has given the vinyl skins from its old advertising billboards a second life as useful school products, reached 8 000 learners this year.

“We hope that this will become a yearly project and that we can reach even more learners,” says BP retail head Renny Letswalo.

The school year started in style or underprivileged learners from Makhoarane Primary School, in Soweto, Sukuma Primary School, in Umlazi, Durban, and Injongo Primary School, in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, who received funky pencil cases, chair bags and school backpacks made from old vinyl advertising billboards.

Letswalo points out that the Ads to Bags campaign supports South African children’s hopes and dreams by giving them practical and durable tools that add value to their education and replaces the need to buy traditional, pricy school suitcases and other stationery.

“Not only are the kids starting the new school year with colourful new equipment but BP is also benefiting the environment by recycling this material and creating jobs.

“Out-of-work women from across Gauteng are employed and being taught by the Ekukhanyeni Community Development Centre, in Johannesburg, how to recycle the material and produce all the merchandise for our supplier, Black Brain,” adds Letswalo.

She says it is a simple idea but the benefits are multiple – the learners get supplies, the women get employment and the vinyl does not end up in a landfill or incinerators.

“But the best part is the excitement on the children’s faces. We have provided them with the type of school items that more privileged learners take for granted,” Letswalo explains.

Because BP only has a limited quantity of old advertising billboards to recycle, it is driving the call for all companies to partner in the campaign and recycle their advertising material in similar fashion.

Letswalo says any company which would like to donate its old billboards can contact the BP team through the tab on its website and BP will recycle the material at its expense on their behalf.

Media groups Primedia and Black Brain have already taken up BP’s call and donated to the cause, she adds.

Meanwhile, BP expects its underlying production to grow in 2013, mainly driven by the ramp-up of major projects, such as those in higher-margin areas, and reduced downtime owing to maintenance.

Full-year 2013 reported volumes are forecast to be lower than volumes for 2012 as a result of the divestment of around 150 000 bbl/d, the bulk of which relates to higher-margin areas in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.

The actual reported outcome will depend on the exact timing of divestments, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries quotas and the impact of the oil price on production sharing agreements, states BP global CEO Brian Gilvary.