The recycling project between Adcock Ingram Critical Care, Netcare, the mayor of Joburg Herman Mashaba and the City of Joburg are “helping hospitals deal with their safe healthcare waste in a way that creates functional new products, including school shoes” says the City of Joburg. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

Johannesburg - Who would have thought that medical waste such as drip bags could be recycled and turned into school shoes for needy children?
A collaboration between a waste management company, a hospital group and a pharmaceutical firm has done just that.

Trials of collecting drip bags from hospital wards instead of throwing them away have begun at two Netcare hospitals in Pretoria. And a primary school in Zandspruit has already benefited from the shoes produced.

The recycling project between Adcock Ingram Critical Care, Netcare, the mayor of Joburg Herman Mashaba and the City of Joburg are “helping hospitals deal with their safe healthcare waste in a way that creates functional new products, including school shoes” says the City of Joburg.

According to Adcock’s managing director, Colin Sheen, the project not only supports the natural ecosystem but also society.

“You have to employ people and invest in building a recycling plant. You have to employ people to build a factory that’s going to make school shoes or helmets or boots, so you actually start an entire ecosystem."

“The employment it creates is huge. The first school that benefited from the initiative was a primary school in Zandspruit and we plan to create more sustainable solutions."

“These are the communities we have identified and are really desperate. We want to give school shoes to kids who really need them. There are schools out there in rural areas - that’s where we want to get to because that’s where we want to make a difference,” he added.

“We need help in identifying those areas. Not only school shoes but plastic desks, chairs, mats and chair bags. We need help to say, this is where the opportunity is, what can you do to help?

“The initiative has just kicked off and we will go to local communities and municipalities, to gain momentum. It is part of doing what we can to give back.”

The marketing manager of Adcock Ingram Critical Care, Natasha Pillay, said in the past pharmaceuticals would sell the drips to the hospitals and after use, the empty bags would end up in a medical waste basket and be dumped in landfill sites.

“PVC is one of the highest quality plastics you can have. We go in and train the staff on how to collect the bags and put them in blue bins in all the wards. So they have to be separated. Then we have a sorter,” she said.

Pillay added the benefits to the environment were immense.

“There are huge benefits all around. We are eliminating landfill waste, so there’s a benefit to the environment. We are increasing employment with all the recycling companies as well, conserving energy and natural resources. It is also cost-effective.”

The Sunday Independent