His nickname is “Crown Cork King”. Ingo Petermeier from Germany has a very special collector’s passion. He collects crown corks. And since you get a reward when you take them to the recycling centre (at least in Germany), he started a charity. This “Crown Cork Collection Campaign” is not only about collecting crown corks. It’s about raising awareness for a subject, which is barely talked about: colon cancer. We met Ingo and asked him, why he chose crown corks for his charity project:
Please introduce yourself and tell us what’s behind the Crown Cork Collection Campaign.
My name is Ingo Petermeier, I’m 38 years old and I live in a small town called “Liesborn” in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. I started the Crown Cork Collection Campaign in May 2012 as an aid campaign to raise awareness for and fight colon cancer. The campaign is very simple: Everyone who wants to support us can start collecting crown corks and take them to the nearest collection point in Germany or the surrounding countries. My colleagues and me will then pick them up and take them to the recycling centre. There the crown corks are weighed and we get a refund from the centre, depending on the weight. The proceeds will be donated 100% to the “Patientenhilfe Darmkrebs”, an initiative by Felix Burda Foundation which supports people that suffer from colon cancer.
Since founding this campaign in May 2012 we collected 184 tons of crown corks and could donate 18,170 € for the “Patientenhilfe Darmkrebs”.
Crown Corks are items of everyday use, you can find them in nearly every household. Why did you choose them for your campaign? Do you have a special connection to crown corks?
I always collected crown corks in my spare time, you could say it was a hobby. I even passed them to my family and friends. Then – I don’t know why – I stopped collecting them. Until one faithful day in 2012: My friend Tim called me to ask if I could take “some” of his crown corks. Sure I could. 15 minutes later, he brought me unbelievable 300 kilos of crown corks. The next day, I took them to the recycling centre and received money in return. Well, technically this wasn’t my money, so I thought about what to do with it. I knew immediately that I wanted to donate it. A few weeks earlier I had watched a TV documentary on the work of the Felix Burda Foundation, which I found very interesting. So I decided to support them.
You have collection centres in several European countries, you also hold four world records for collecting the highest amount of crown corks: how did you slide into this record-thing and what are your plans for the future?
One day, a fellow collector asked me to think about how to promote the campaign. I did some research on the internet and thought “Okay, a world record would be a thing!” What can I say – it worked once, it worked twice, in the last years we were able to break the records four times! In 2018, we collected 74.5 tons of crown corks. The world records definitely helped us a lot to gain attention for the campaign. But in 2019, I want things to calm down a little. We’ll stop the hunt for more world records until somebody else beats our record. But of course we’ll continue collecting.
Besides the world records: What was the most beautiful response to your Crown Cork Collection Campaign you have received since founding it?
I get this question a lot! There are tons of beautiful moments, but a lot of sad ones as well. But one fact stands out: I got to know a lot of people that I most probably would have never talked to, if I hadn’t started collecting crown corks for charity. That’s for example the collectors Andreas, Erik and Thomas, who search my collection for rare and valuable crown corks. I made a lot of new friends in the last years! And of course all the interviews I was able to give, the attention by the media and the people are still super special to me. It’s great to see that there are a lot of people who support me and the campaign.
How can interested people support you and your charity? Is it “simply” collecting crown corks or do you need other help than that as well?
Everybody can help by collecting crown corks and bringing them to the collection centres. Right now I am looking for new transportation possibilities, because the crown corks need to be brought from the centre to my home. If anybody is willing to bring the crown corks over by car, that would be great! I also provide a lot of information material on colon cancer on my homepage. Print it, spread it, talk about this topic! If more people handled this topic openly, I would be very happy. Besides collecting crown corks, this is what helps the most. Most people don’t know this illness is curable as long as it’s detected early. Colon cancer shouldn’t be a taboo subject anymore!