“Don’t forget to keep the cap”
The Association of Paraplegic and Physically Disabled in the county of Pella, in partnership with a Greek recycling company (which wishes to remain anonymous), have come to an agreement: every tonne of recycled bottle caps equals one wheelchair. Everything started with a lie…when the Association saw on a website that 10,000 bottle caps could be swapped for a wheelchair, they spread the news, and actually managed to collect as many, with the help of people from shops, cafeterias, restaurants and schools in the area. When they contacted the bottling companies claiming a wheelchair in return of the caps they were going to send, to their surprise, they were told that such a deal was impossible.
However, the news had already spread. Schools in nearby areas and counties were now participating and sending bottle caps to the Association, since they didn’t know the deal was off the table. Hearing the story, a recycling company in Central Macedonia, Northern Greece, contacted the Association and said that they were willing to give the financial equivalent of a wheelchair for every tonne of bottle caps returned. The only thing they asked for was that they remained anonymous. Thanks to this anonymous company, what started off as false information online, became reality.
Since then, the news were shared even further across the media and it became a massive initiative. It has reached schools, the army, the navy, companies or individuals, who all keep collecting and sending thousands of bottle caps back. The Association needs about 540,000 items to make up a tonne, and the recycling company gives back 180 Euros for each tonne.
The Association kept the first three wheelchairs – one of them was also electric (cost more bottle caps!) and three more were sent to the Volunteering team of the “Papageorgiou” Hospital in Thessaloniki for those affected by kidney dysfunctions. These were the first wheelchairs acquired through this initiative.
This has now grown, the Association still receives billions of bottle caps, and continues to help those in need.
It has become a collective initiative, and three independent companies, touched by the Association’s efforts, have also decided to help by donating, regardless of recycled bottle caps.