SPAR steps up to give little South Africans new school shoes!
Photo Cred: Supplied | On File

Millions of used, non-hazardous hospital PVC drip bags, oxygen masks and associated tubing destined for landfill, can be recycled into premium-quality products such as school shoes.


Johannesburg, South Africa – (25 February 2020) – More than 1 300 primary school learners of Chivirikani Primary School in Katlehong, south-east of Johannesburg, received a pair of brand new school shoes made from non-hazardous, recycled PVC healthcare waste products.

This means that 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.

Just 20 drip bags are needed to make one pair of new school shoes!

A prototype of the school shoes was tested at three schools in 2019, to get first-hand feedback from learners on design and comfort.

Recycled hospital drip bags to be made into 25 000 pairs of school shoes for SA learners this year
Photo Cred: Netcare

The final unisex shoe design took into consideration the valuable feedback received from the learners. One of the participating schools was Chivirikani Primary School, and it was therefore decided, in consultation with the school, to launch the My Walk initiative at its premises and distribute the first batch of fully recycled school shoes to learners at the school.

Innovative, sustainable solutions for the long term

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

“School shoes are a basic necessity, and if learners do not have adequate footwear, this can introduce ongoing obstacles to their education, including bullying and harassment at school. Having school shoes can enhance the schooling experience for learners.” 

Many learners, unfortunately, still walk long distances to and from school without shoes, facing a daily threat of sustaining cuts and infections.

Chivirikani Primary School principal, Mr 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.” 

Wearing fit for purpose school shoes can help bolster children’s confidence and self-esteem and have an all-round positive effect on their journey of development and learning so that they can be better equipped for the future.

All-round benefits

Chief executive officer of Netcare, Dr Richard Friedland, explained that they had found themselves with tonnes of high-quality PVC waste, as drip bags, oxygen masks and associated tubing 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 benefitting society – in this case, by supporting education, job creation and enterprise development,” explains Dr Friedland.

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.

“It is so rewarding for us at Adcock Ingram Critical Care and Netcare to be part of the My Walk initiative. We encourage the learners of Chivirikani primary school and other schools which will benefit from the initiative to take advantage of educational opportunities. We hope that their new school shoes will assist them on this journey,” Sheen and Dr Friedland conclude.

Recycled hospital drip bags to be made into 25 000 pairs of school shoes for SA learners this year
Photo Cred: Netcare

Sources: Facebook 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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