Over 35,000 primary school learners across South Africa receive pencil bags made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles. The now annual initiative by Pick n Pay School Club aims to educate future generations on the importance of sustainability while having an immediate positive environmental impact.

Since the initiative launched in 2021, over 101,000 learners have received one of these popular accessories for school. This means that, through this donation, 101,000 recycled plastic bottles have been removed from the environment and upcycled to make these pencil bags.

During the handovers at over 200 schools, the learners are educated on how valuable plastic can be if appropriately recycled and educational posters have been created showing how these pencil cases have been made.

This year, Pick n Pay School Club worked with Feed the Nation Foundation and local Pick n Pay stores to donate food and/or food hampers for the children. 1,000 pencil bags have also been donated to CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa, which provides free comprehensive support to families of children with cancer and life-threatening blood disorders.

Andre Nel, General Manager: Sustainability at Pick n Pay, says that the pencil bags are a beautiful and practical accessory for learners to store their stationery, but it also promotes environmentally sustainable behaviour. Each pencil bag is made from one 500ml recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate – known as rPET) water bottle – the type of plastic typically used to make plastic bottles and other packaging, such as food and household goods containers.

“Promoting recycling amongst the youth encourages them to conserve resources and reduce the amount of plastic waste in our oceans, landfills or the environment. By giving these pencil bags to school children, we teach them about the importance of recycling and practically demonstrate the benefits of a circular economy whereby plastic can be used again and again if recycled,” says Nel.

The initiative is a remarkable example of how public and private partnerships can positively impact society by educating and inspiring future generations to care for the environment.

Pick n Pay School Club is one of South Africa’s leading educational platforms, reaching over 3,280 schools and over two million learners. “It is so important we support the school’s curriculum with activations such as this as it helps communicate important lessons to learners in a fun and interactive way. It is incredible to see learners taking recycling more seriously in schools where pencil bags were donated.”

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