SA's old billboards are getting new lives as funky school equipment

27 February 2013

Hundreds of old vinyl billboards are finding new lives as backpacks, pencil cases and chair bags for primary school children across South Africa

And the company behind the project is so keen for others to get involved that its willing to incur all the costs around donation and recycling on their behalf. 

The Ads to Bags campaign has given the vinyl skins from old BP advertising billboards a second life as useful school items. But because BP only has a limited number of billboards it is able to recycle, it is asking other companies to donate theirs – without any cost to them. Chevrolet SA, Primall Media and communications company Black Brain have already stepped up and donated to the cause of helping the country’s less privileged learners, who now have access to items others take for granted. 

Since the start of the 2013 school year, hundreds of excited youngsters at Mohobo Primary (Welkom), Injongo Primary (Khayelitsha), Sukuma Primary (Umlazi) and Makhoarane Primary (Soweto) have benefitted from Ads to Bags and BP is keen to spread the joy further.

Renny Letswalo, Head of BP Retail, says the campaign has had a positive impact on both job creation and the environment.

“Not only are the kids getting colourful new equipment but we are benefitting the environment by recycling while also creating jobs. 

“There is a massive positive ripple effect on jobs and skills development as the Ekukhanyeni Community Development Centre, which employs out-of-work women, is being taught how to recycle the material and produce all the merchandise for our supplier, Black Brain, which has also signed up as one of the first donors to the campaign.

We would like to reach an even greater number of children throughout the year but we only have a limited number of old billboards available for recycling. This is why we’re asking companies to get involved by donating their old billboards to Ads for Bags and we’ll do the rest”.

Companies that would like to donate their old advertising billboards to Ads to Bags can contact Noma Mazibuko at 011 482 4624 or email her at 

South Africans can get involved in helping BP select schools to benefit from the campaign by visiting and nominating their preferred school.

Says Letswalo: “It’s a great way to give your advertising new legs and, at the same time, have a positive impact on the lives of others.”