2bangkok.com has been sparring with skeptical foreigners over this issue since we first reported on it two years ago, but in Thailand collecting pulltabs is not just an urban legend: ...Yasuo Tsujihiro, vice-president of the Bangkok Can Manufacturing company, said it was a good idea to begin with the can tabs as his company was not yet ready to collect used cans, which required more cleaning before recycling...
An urban legend makes the leap into reality!
All over Thailand people have been collecting pulltabs because of the "special metal" in them that can be used to make artificial limbs for Cambodian mine victims. This practice sounds like the well-known urban legend in the West where good-hearted people collect pulltabs to redeem for wheelchairs or dialysis machines. See here (offsite) for the story.
However, in Thailand it is not an urban legend. We spoke to the Public Relations Department at Seleboss, the local company that produces Brands Essence of Chicken (condensed chicken soup in a small jar that you drink). They said a charity/foundation in Chiang Mai allied with the Medical Science University of Chiang Mai University is collecting pulltabs from soda cans and lids from Brands jars to make artificial limbs for Cambodians. While there is no "special metal" in pulltabs, the foundation does not want entire cans.
Why not collect the whole can? The foundation does not have a "melter" capable of handling the volume of aluminum in a single can and they don't have a shredder capable of shredding the full can into pieces they could melt. It seems pulltabs are the perfect size for the equipment they have and the volume they can deal with.
Here is the webpage Brands has describing the program.