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10/20/97 Groups urged to leave tabs on aluminum cans for donation

ATLANTA (BP)–Ever tried to pull the pop-tab off the top of an aluminum soft-drink can? Thousands have — including many church members — usually in response to well-intentioned drives to collect the tabs for kidney dialysis or other causes.
The only problem is, there are no such programs, and church and civic groups interested in recycling aluminum for charitable purposes would be better off selling the entire can for more money and less effort.
Similar to the recurring rumors regarding the Procter & Gamble company logo or Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s supposed efforts to halt religious broadcasting, the aluminum can-tab story has been recurring for years with no basis in truth, according to Reynolds Aluminum Recycling Company and the National Kidney Foundation.
The most popular version of the story goes that the tabs can be exchanged for time on a kidney dialysis machine for someone with kidney disease. “Many well-intentioned yet misinformed groups and individuals collected pull tabs only to find that there was no pull tab/kidney dialysis donation program,” according to a Reynolds brochure. “It never existed. Anywhere.”
Kidney dialysis is actually funded for everyone by the federal Medicare program as treatment for a disability, according to Jenni Palocsik, a spokesman for the National Kidney Foundation of Georgia.
In other versions, the tabs are collected for chemotherapy or other medical treatments.
Among groups that have collected the can tabs are civic and church groups, particularly those involving children such as Royal Ambassadors and Girls in Action. Both are Southern Baptist missions education organizations that emphasize hands-on missions projects.
In one area, there was a widespread misunderstanding that a one-gallon milk jug full of the tabs was worth $50 toward kidney dialysis time. In fact, that amount of aluminum — about two pounds — is worth only about 50 cents at current market rates, according to a spokesman at a Reynolds recycling center in Atlanta.
For groups considering collecting or currently collecting tabs, one alternative is to turn the project into a recycling drive for all aluminum products — including drink cans, pie plates and other items. The Royal Ambassadors “Opportunity Now” program, which raises money for Southern Baptist disaster relief efforts, suggests an aluminum recycling drive as one option. RAs can earn a special uniform patch for participating in “Opportunity Now,” with chevrons for each additional year of involvement.
“When the kids watch TV and they see relief efforts going on, they can say, ‘I took part in that,'” said Ben Kelley, director of development for the North American Mission Board, who administers the program. Proceeds are distributed around the country as disaster relief needs arise.
Also, under the “Keep Tabs on Your Cans” campaign, Reynolds Aluminum Recycling Company will donate proceeds from aluminum donated at its centers directly to the National Kidney Foundation’s local chapters and affiliates.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson