Where do billboards go to die? What happens to them when the marketing campaign is over? Colorful, larger than life billboards dot the landscape, market goods, give information and provide an interesting diversion during traffic jams.
Billboards with incredibly gaudy messages might leave you cringing or even leave people wondering how the installation guys managed to get up there.
Thousands of square kilometres of billboard skins made out of non-biodegradable plastic materials are left to rot in landfills or burnt and release toxic fumes into the air.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Pakistan usually involves multinationals throwing out large sums of money at flood survivors or schools and sending out press release highlighting their magnanimity. For once, one of those firms has taken an initiative that helps the country on many levels. The corporate social responsibility team at Mobilink managed to come up with an idea of trying to save these sheets of plastic from ending up in landfills by turning them into school bags for underprivileged children.
This project involves recycling discarded billboards to school bags that are distributed to underprivileged school children. The initiative helps in environmental conservation efforts and promotes education. Through this initiative, the country’s largest telecom company is giving used billboard skins a second life, thus contributing to environmental protection and promoting sustainable business practices while providing essential items to those who need them the most.
The process of manufacturing starts off with the collection of discarded billboard skins. For this, Mobilink’s own advertisement billboard skins are used. As a company that markets its products heavily and frequently through outdoor advertising, there is always a steady supply of pana-flex sheets. The company reuses the disposed-off billboard skins to find a small but powerful way of protecting the environment. The skins are sent to the manufacturing facility set up in Lahore with the help of Mobilink. Then the skins are washed thoroughly to remove color while damaged parts are disposed of. The material is then handed over to skilled workers who cut the flex sheet into the standard school bag designed to carry books. The cut materials are then sent for stitching.
Since the launch of the recycled schoolbags initiative back in 2007, Mobilink has donated 35,000 school bags made from recycled advertising skins to leading local NGOs such as CARE Foundation, Zindagi Trust, JAQ Trust, Sindh Education Foundation and various
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2011.