A 10-year-old boy from Canada is doing his bit to save the planet by collecting thousands and thousands of tabs from drinks cans and taking them to be recycled.

Jace Weber, of Mildmay, Ontario, set the record for most aluminium can tabs collected for recycling in one year after handing in an incredible 3,648 lb (1,654.70 kg) of them.

That's more than the weight of Jabba the Hut from Star Wars or around as much as three grand pianos.

Now known as the “pop tab kid” around the community, Jace of Mildmay, Ontario started collecting can tabs in August of 2022 with the goal to collect and recycle enough of them to donate the money earned towards a wheelchair for someone in need.

Within the course of a year, the collection grew beyond what he and his parents imagined and grew to record-breaking size. 

Jace said that he was inspired to start this project by a man he saw on YouTube, who shared his story of collecting can tabs for many years with the goal to dedicate his entire collection to charity.

“This inspired me,” he explained. “I knew it was something small I could do that could make a difference if I collected enough of them.”

jace with can tabs

The young environmentalist originally started collecting can tabs from around the family’s home, on camping trips or family gatherings and was always determined to do good with the collection.

Soon, news of his initiative began to circulate, inspiring friends and family to join in by contributing their own can tabs.

The practice of collecting can tabs for recycling purposes, with the aim of raising funds, is widespread. Metal recyclers compensate based on weight, as the tabs are eventually melted down into scrap aluminium to be reused.

Jace explained the process in his own words: “First you take [the can tabs] to the scrap yard and then they weigh it on the scale and give you approximately $0.70 (£0.55, €0.64) per pound. After the scrap yard they go to a smelter and get burnt down and then can be used for new aluminium items and so on.”

jace putting can tabs in truck

All proceeds were donated to March of Dimes Canada’s assistive devices programme.

“After I dropped off the tabs at the scrap yard they went to a charity and a couple months later I found out that the money I raised helped two people that needed self-assistive devices to help them do simple daily tasks, without the help they probably wouldn’t have got those devices they needed.”

Jace’s parents, Curtis and Candice, submitted the application for the Guinness World Records title. Once it was confirmed that Jace was the new record holder, they decided to throw a surprise party to celebrate Jace and share the good news. 

Jace had no idea and thought the gathering was a birthday party for his uncle: “I never attempted on trying to beat a record.”

He was asked to pull a blanket off an easel to reveal, what he believed was, an “embarrassing” photo of his uncle, but instead, it was the official GWR certificate. 

jace with family holding record certificate

“When I first saw the Guinness World Records symbol, I thought it was just a dream, it was real though I couldn’t believe my eyes I stood there for a minute straight just staring at it, to this day I still can’t believe it.” 

According to his parents, Jace was completely shocked at the news: “It was definitely a very very proud parent moment for both of us as we confirmed for him what he was seeing was in fact true." 

As someone on the spectrum, Jace’s inspiration to help others living with disabilities is something he and his family are especially passionate about. Jace wishes for his story to set an example for other young people to believe in themselves and never give up.

He said: “my record would have never been possible without trying and believing in yourself.  If you think something is possible, you’re halfway there, the rest is determination and hard work.” 

jace holding record certificate

Jace has become a very familiar face to people in his area. His parents pointed out: “Last fall we were an hour away from home and someone recognized Jace as 'the pop tab kid'.”

Excited about his future endeavours, he shared that he is nowhere near stopping: “I decided to collect pop tabs for the rest of my life”. In fact, his next objective is to contribute to his school’s fundraising goal for a new accessible playground. 

Global Recycling Day is celebrated on 18 March every year, highlighting the importance of recycling to conserve resources, reduce pollution, and address climate change.

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