School year starts with funky new life for old advertising billboards

09 January 2013

The school year is starting in style for hundreds of underpriviledged pupils whose anxious parents, unable to equip them with appropriate kit, watched happily as the new learners received funky pencil cases, chair bags and school backpacks recycled from old vinyl advertising billboards.

The Ads to Bags campaign has given the vinyl skins from old BP advertising billboards a second life as useful school products. 

And BP has used it to mark the beginning of a new dawn for learners at Makhoroane Primary School in Soweto children, giving them new bags to start the school year. Renny Letswalo, head of BP Retail, says the Ads to Bags campaign supports SA children’s hopes and dreams by giving them practical and durable tools that enhance their education and replace 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 we are benefitting the environment by recycling this material and 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 from across Gauteng, is being taught how to recycle the material and produce all the merchandise for our supplier Black Brain.

“It’s a simple idea but the benefits are multiple - the learners get supplies, the women get employment and the vinyl doesn’t 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 pupils take for granted. 
Letswalo says BP has identified three schools for the first Ads to Bags donation in the three major cities. In addition to Makhoroane in Soweto, pupils at Sukuma Primary School in Umlazi (Durban) and Injongo Primary School in Khayelitsha (Cape Town) will all start the school year in style.

“We hope that this will become an annual project and that we can reach even more than the 8 000 learners we will be reaching in 2013.” 
Consumers can get involved by helping BP select schools to benefit from the campaign from a list which will be posted on the BP website. For more information about the Ads to Bags, visit and click on the “Environment and Society” tab on the BP website, or click here to visit the page directly.

Because BP only has limited quantity of old advertising billboards it is able to recycle, it is driving the call for all other companies to partner in the campaign and recycle their advertising material in similar fashion. 
Any brands which would like to donate their old billboards can contact the BP team via the tab on its website and BP will incur the cost of recycling their material on their behalf. Primedia and Black Brain have already taken up BP’s call and donated to the cause. 

“It’s a great way to give your advertising a second life and, at the same time, have a positive impact on the life of others,” she said.