Do you collect ring tabs of cans for charity?

My mom is on a roll. She recently swiped the can I had just finished and pull off the ring tab on top. “Collect these and you can change it for a wheelchair!” I started to wonder whether this is an urban myth. After collecting these tabs, who to you contact and who do you deliver them to? Nobody seems to know. Delving deeper into the issue made me realized that the idea is not exactly as it seems.

Various countries have launched a “Save a 1000 ring tabs” type of programme including Singapore. Here we have something called Project E.A.R.T.H. with Rings for Life. Launched in 2012, it serves to encourage the public to recycle ring tabs from any standard aluminium drink cans for the making of artificial limbs. Volunteers from Rings for Life participate in community outreach events to spread the message and conduct drives to collect ring tabs. The collected ring tabs are weighed, cleaned/washed, dried and packed into boxes to be dispatched to manufacturers of artificial limbs. Beneficiaries of this programme include the physically challenged who reside locally or overseas.


The reason there is any question about pop tab projects, however, is that one of the oldest and most widely circulated urban legends involves the alleged collection of pop tabs to be donated to the National Kidney Foundation in Singapore for helping pay for dialysis treatments for kidney patients.

The National Kidney Foundation says it does not have, and has never had, a pop-tab collection project and that it isn’t really needed since, at the moment, Medicare typically pays for 80 percent of the cost of dialysis time, regardless of the age of the patient. Private insurance and state programs usually pay for the remaining 20 percent.

There are some pop tab projects, however, and some have done well.

Tabs for Wheelchairs, a successful effort in Canada, actually got started because of an urban legend. spoke with Jack Baumber of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 229 in Elora, Ontario, Canada. He has led a tab collection effort since 1989 that has donated more than 400 wheelchairs to people who need them. He says it all got started when he heard that tabs were being collected to provide a wheelchair for a 4-year-old girl. He and others accumulated some tabs, only to find out that the whole thing was a rumor and there was no such project. He decided to see how much the tabs they had collected were worth at a recycling plant and that inspired him to turn the rumor into reality. He says he gets tabs from all over the world.

Even the Thais are in on this with some 20kg of recycled ring tabs from aluminium cans have been collected to aid the Prostheses Foundation of HRH The Princess Mother of Thailand in Chiang Mai during a recent run a couple years ago.

So there you have it. The tabs don’t actually go towards wheelchairs per se. Collection efforts are more centralised around delivering of artificial limbs to countries upon receipt of those bags and bags of tabs. The question is why tabs and not the actual cans itself. Isn’t there more metal on them? The mystery continues. A good intent and effort kick is a good start but we have to find a way to make sure that the effort counts.

Good cause: (From right) Chan, Su Hashim and Lions Club Zone 4 chairman Lee Sing Pheng checking the aluminium ring tabs donated by the club at the Penang Girl Guides Association headquarters in Jalan Air Itam, Penang.


After note: My good mentor Mr O has provided another reason why only tabs are collected. Apparently the reasons for collecting only tabs include less storage space and no beverage residue mess to clean up. For many people, especially children, it’s fun to see the number of tabs piling up in the collection container like pennies in a piggy bank.

Interesting reads:


  1. Reblogged this on Unsung Heroes: People Shining a Light in a Sometimes Dark World and commented:

    Thanks for the follows *, as the reason I write is to share.
    * (Though my family and close friends say it would be far more entertaining with a video-camera # in “real life”, rather than in cyberspace!)

    # By the way, do they still make them in today’s ever-faster changing world..or is it all done with mobile phones?

    (get with the times now,”luddite”* c – it should be a smart phone)

    * or so I was often called by my “my techno-geek” friend, Bill (“the gonk”)

    “total non-techno” c (who doesn’t possess a mobile phone, after a rather eventful’ experience some years back, whilst trying to walk, talk and chew gum at the same time)

    Who says men can’t multi-task!

    Kind regards


    “You will do foolish things…but do them with enthusiasm.”
    – Colette


    Best wishes from the First City to see the sun (in summer) …and we’re also the first to see the sunset and the stars (in winter-time)

    “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”


  2. Hi ! Do you know where do they collect them in Singapore And do you know if they make the wheelchairs in Singapore or do they ship overseas? Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi my name is Tracey and the company I work 𝐅𝐨𝐫 has been saving ring pull but we don’t know what to do with them so this is why I have got in touch with you hoping you could help me Yours sincerely Tracey Davidson

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Betterman, Im in Australia and I have saved the ringpulls for many years but the lady I used to give them to isnt sure herself where to send them now, Can you point us in the right direction? I have about 5 kgs which I could send. Thanks


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s