. 6 geo-political zones to benefit from investment
By Clara Nwachukwu
Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited says it plans to spend up to $2 million this financial year to advance its vision of recovering and recycling 100% of its packaging by 2030.
The company had spent $1.1 million for this purpose and needed to upscale to meet set targets.
The target, which falls in line with Coca-Cola’s global, World Without Waste vision drive, is part of its environmental sustainability drive to find solution to the packaging waste problem occasioned by the use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.
The PET compounds are moulded into plastic bottles and containers for packaging foods and beverages, personal care products, and many other consumer products.
Speaking with select journalists in Lagos yesterday, the Director, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability at The Coca-Cola Company, Amaka Onyemelukwe, expressed the beverage giant’s optimism of meeting the 2030 cut-off date.
She said the idea of the vision is not just to lead to global industry conversation on attitudinal change in the use and disposal of PET bottles, but also to create wealth and other economic values from recycling the packaging and bottles.
This, she said, is based on Coca-Cola’s belief that “every package has value and life beyond its initial use and should be collected and recycled into either a new package or another beneficial use.”
It takes up to 1,000 years for every single bottle of water to decompose. Each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into our environment along the way as it decomposes.
Scaling recyclability programme
To upscale the recycling drive and meet the 2030 target, Onyemelukwe said Coca-Cola will spread the $2 million investment across the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.
Each zone will be host to a recycling plant that will boost collection of PET from the states around it to expand circular economy – from waste to wealth.
Collectors are now paid between N80 and N100 per kilogram of PET collected, up from N20/kg of some years back, which she said has helped to create another industry of collectors and partners some of whom earn up to N280,000 per month for their collection.
These PET and packaging materials are recycled for other uses including the textile, furniture and manufacturing industries.
“Our goal is to make all our consumer packaging 100% recyclable globally. … Collect: The Coca‑Cola Nigeria and its bottling partner Nigeria Bottling Company (NBC) are leading the industry to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for everyone we sell by 2030,” she explained.
Already, collection points have been set up in many locations in Lagos and Abuja as well as some in Kano, Kaduna and Imo states to rid the environment of the wastes.
Additionally, one of the recycling plants is billed for inauguration this April in Delta State. Ahead of this, the Delta State Government wrote to all hotels and hospitality operators to send in their PET bottles to the recycling centre, which now has tonnes of feedstock for its take-off.
The importance of this project stems from the fact that PET bottles generate more than 100 times the toxic emissions to air and water than making the same size bottle out of glass, according to the Ecology Centre.
Besides, the majority of these PET bottles and packages end up in the oceans, drainages and landfills thereby constituting further environmental hazards to human and aquatic life.
US-based, Healthy Human Life estimates that “It takes up to 1,000 years for every single bottle of water to decompose. Each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into our environment along the way as it decomposes.”
Every package has value and life beyond its initial use and should be collected and recycled into either a new package or another beneficial use.
Changing the narrative
According to Onyemelukwe, “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.”
She insists that companies, and Coca-Cola Nigeria in particular, “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 that the company is pushing this change in narrative on a tripod – “Design, Collect and Partner with others to improve packaging sustainability.”
In terms of design, she said: “Our goal is to make all our consumer packaging 100% recyclable globally,” adding that the company is doing about 50% recycling in-country through its partner, NBC.
For the collection, she said Coca‑Cola Nigeria and NBC are working to bring people together to help collect and recycle the bottles, while it partners with waste collectors, industry leaders, government, NGOs, waste aggregators, developing partners and consumers to help achieve a World Without Waste.
Onyemelukwe added that through this demand and supply mechanism, Coca-Cola plans to leverage the regional market as well as create jobs not just in the informal but also the formal sectors.
This target is already yielding fruits through Alkem, which uses the recycled materials for its textile operations as well as the establishment of recycling plants in Ikorodu (Lagos), and in Agbara (Ogun).
The success story also includes the establishment of the Coalition of an industry group, the Food and Beverage Recycling alliance (FBRA), an industry partnership between Coca‑Cola, the Nigerian Bottling Company, Nestle Plc, 7up Bottling Company, and Nigerian Breweries Plc, to build a sustainable recycling economy for food and beverage packaging waste.
She therefore tasked the government on the provision of recycling infrastructure to attract more foreign direct investment into the sector. Part of this support should also include tax incentives as done in some other climes to boost interest.