Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Emirates upcycles billboards to turn them into schoolbags

The airline celebrated World Environment Day with a recycling project in South Africa

Emirates turned its billboards into schoolbags as part of a World Environment Day project. Courtesy Emirates
Emirates turned its billboards into schoolbags as part of a World Environment Day project. Courtesy Emirates

Every year, around nine billion passengers fly on aeroplanes around the world. As well as positive impacts like opening up new destinations, creating jobs and aiding tourism, there's no denying the negative environmental impact that global air transport has on the world.

This project is very close to my heart because I know what it’s like not to have a bag for school when the other children do.

Raymond Phiri

As part of an initiative to increase its sustainability efforts, Emirates marked this year’s World Environment Day on June 5 with a recycling project that transformed billboard advertisements in South Africa into hundreds of backpacks for schoolchildren.

As part of the initiative, the Dubai airline collected over 500 square metres of its advertising from billboards across the country. The heavy-duty material was sent to Johannesburg where it was upcycled into schools bags and reusable shopping bags.

The 200 schoolbags were filled with stationery and activity packs from Emirates’ on-board products, and then donated to a primary school in one of Johannesburg’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The Emirates billboards were turned into schoolbags, shopping bags and totes. Courtesy Emirates 
The Emirates billboards were turned into schoolbags, shopping bags and totes. Courtesy Emirates 

Local entrepreneur Raymond Phiri worked with Emirates to create the bags, with help from a local bag manufacturing company called Just Bags.

"This project is very close to my heart because I know what it’s like not to have a bag for school when the other children do,” said Phiri, adding, “These bags are incredibly strong, water-resistant and will endure. Grade 1 learners that receive these bags will be able to use them until grade 7.”

200 recycled bags were donated to children at a school in one of Johannesburg's poorest neighbourhoods. Courtesy Emirates 
200 recycled bags were donated to children at a school in one of Johannesburg's poorest neighbourhoods. Courtesy Emirates 

Thembakazi Giyama, Principal of Emfundisweni Primary School in Alexandra where the bags were donated said: To see the happy faces of our students when they received their new bags, was such a delight."

The move is part of Emirates' efforts to introduce more sustainability projects.

In 2017, the airline swapped its in-flight blankets for a more sustainable option that saw blankets created out of 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles.

Updated: June 5, 2019 12:59 PM

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