The dynamism of man’s lifestyle and consumption patterns have altered manufacturing and packaging of most products. This is majorly accountable for packaging materials evolving from biodegradable to nature resistant with ravaging impacts on the environment.
The cost of producing packaging materials has also started impacting on products, thereby straining the value-chain, with the potential of fueling inflation. Apart from environmental sustainability, the economic impact of recycling makes it compulsory for mankind to factor it into today’s manufacturing processes.
This is why the initiatives of The Coca-Cola Company are noteworthy. The company has resolved to dedicate enormous resources to tackling the plastic waste challenge.
Speaking on the company’s community programs and its vision for a World Without Waste, Managing Director and Vice President, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Alfred Olajide, reiterated the company’s commitment to a waste-free world. In his words, “We want to make recycling more accessible (to people and communities), to achieve 100 percent collection and recycling by 2030”.
“Our goal is to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone we sell globally. To achieve this, we will continue to make our packaging 100 percent recyclable and work with various stakeholders to ensure the bottles are collected and recycled”.
On the socioeconomic impact of its World Without Waste initiative, he expressed optimism “that this initiative will continue to help communities identify and better understand how and where to recycle, further empowering women and youths who will be able to earn a living through recycling”.
“It will also help improve the existing collection and recycling systems. A litter-free world is possible and we at The Coca-Cola Company are leading the way”.
Providing insight on the company’s sustainability journey so far, the Director of Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca‑Cola Nigeria, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, explained, “A greener environment remains a priority for us at Coca-Cola as seen via the numerous initiatives launched and supported by the company. We aim to fundamentally change how we design, collect, and partner with others to help recycle packaging across our entire system”.
“We believe that every package has value and life beyond its initial use and should be collected and recycled into either a new package or for another beneficial use. While the company and its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company, will not own collection infrastructure in most cases, Coca-Cola continues to support locally tailored collection and recycling programs. It is unacceptable that packages end up in the wrong place, in our oceans and waterways or littering the communities where we work and live. We have a responsibility to help ensure our impact is a positive one and our actions inspire others to help generate solutions that leave our world better for generations to come”.
She explained further saying, “This is why we led and formed an industry coalition known as the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) which has grown from a consortium of four founding members to a membership of 21 food and beverage organizations championing the recovery and recycling of food and packaging waste. So far, FBRA has supported over 10 collectors, enabling the recovery and recycling of over 18,000 tons of plastic materials from the environment.”
On the design pillar of the company’s World Without Waste vision, Coca-Cola Nigeria along with its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company, are creating better product packaging as evident in the migration of its iconic green Sprite bottles to clear bottles, thereby driving more value for collectors and recyclers.
The company has also carried out various light weighing initiatives ensuring the use of less plastic materials across its beverage portfolio. For example, its water brand, Eva, product packaging is now lighter in weight to help reduce the amount of plastic packaging that goes into the environment.
On the collection and partnership pillars, the company has invested over $3million over the last three years, working with various social ventures and NGOs to educate and build recycling infrastructure to ensure people know how and where to recycle.
Some of these projects include Mission Zero Plastic by AREAi, Cash 4 Trash by W.A.S.T.E Africa, Project Revive by RecyclePoints, Project DORI by RecyclePoints Foundation, RESWAYE by MEDIC, Plastics 2 Resources by Global Shapers, Waste in the City by SWEEP Foundation, Waste to Wealth by Do Good Africa, Waste to Strap by PSSI, CleanUp Naija and RecyclesPay by African Cleanup Initiative.
With funding from its philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Coca-Cola Nigeria recently partnered with two climate-friendly organizations and is set to unveil two major recycling initiatives that will support the collection value chain to scale up collection and recycling across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
With the launch of its Africa-wide JAMII sustainability platform earlier this year, the company has continued to focus on promoting environmental sustainability through its key sustainability areas of waste management, water stewardship and wealth creation for communities.