Handbag made from Abel & Cole van tarpaulin

Abel & Cole’s unwanted van advertising tarpaulins are being transformed into ‘anti-theft’ handbags by prison convicts.

The organic home delivery business has so far donated 18 old tarps to HMP Thameside men’s prison in South London, where they are cut up by inmates and turned into bags designed to be secure and fit close to the body.

The first range of Makeright bags is being created as part of a project run by the Design Against Crime Research Centre at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. A small selection will be available exclusively at the Sue Ryder shop in Camden, with all profits donated to the charity.

Abel & Cole’s involvement was a natural extension of its waste reduction policy, said the business’ sustainability & environmental manager Marta Salvà Cifuentes.

“For many years, we’ve recycled our delivery boxes and packaging wherever possible, and are always keen to reduce waste and reuse where we can,” she added, “but I never thought I’d see the day when we’d find such a brilliant new use for our old van panels.”