As part of its efforts to preserve the environment for sustainable living and stimulate plastic waste management in Nigeria, the Coca-Cola System comprising Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) and Chi Limited through its Employee Volunteer Scheme known as “JAMII DEEDS” has undertaken a clean-up of the Elegushi Beach, in partnership with Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC).
Coca-Cola, Nigeria’s leading total beverage company, having celebrated 70 years of doing business in Nigeria last year, shared with newsmen that the cleanup, aside from addressing seven of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with focus on clean water and sanitation for all, would also empower youths and women in the coastal community through recycling.
Elegushi Beach, like other beaches in Nigeria, due to a lack of proper waste management practices, has become a haven for all types of waste, majorly packaging waste dropped by fun-seekers who throng the beach regularly.
In addition to the beach cleanup, a recycling bank was launched as a leave behind to empower the women and youths of Elegushi community who can now deposit their recyclables to earn a reward or cash. This brings the total number of recycling banks sponsored by the Coca-Cola system to 21 across various communities.
The exercise, which was led by the Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Alfred Olajide, and Vice President, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Africa Operating Unit, The Coca-Cola Company, Patricia Obozuwa, was part of planned activities to commemorate World Environmental Day and World Oceans Day.
The beach cleanup, according to Obozuwa, was also in support of its recently launched Africa-wide sustainability platform, Jamii, which focuses on waste management, water stewardship and wealth creation for women and youth, with the goal of promoting a better-shared future for communities and the planet while minimizing the impact of man’s activities on the environment.
“Our focus on water to support the planet would be incomplete unless we clean up our beaches which have a direct path to the ocean,” she remarked. “Families converge at beaches to create magical moments, and the continued deterioration of our beaches with waste materials proves a continued challenge which we must all come together to tackle”.
In his contribution, Olajide highlighted that through the employee volunteer efforts which sits under the “Jamii Deeds” pillar of our Jamii sustainability platform, the company hopes to contribute to ensuring the wellbeing of host communities while simultaneously upholding sustainable development in the country.
“Cleaning the beaches and extracting as much waste material as we can, continues to drive our World Without Waste agenda through which we have collected over one billion PET bottles already. It is also part of our commitment to our global goal to make all consumer packaging 100 per cent recyclable by 2025 and to enable 100 percent collection of all packaging material by 2030”, Olajide said.
Recall that in 2018, The Coca-Cola Company announced its bold and ambitious goal of a ‘World Without Waste’ to help collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for every one the company sells by 2030.
Similarly, the bottling partner of Coca-Cola in Nigeria, Nigerian Bottling Company, is strongly committed to these goals.
Managing Director, Nigerian Bottling Company, Matthieu Seguin, represented by Ekuma Eze, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director, described the cleanup exercise, as an extension of the System’s resolve to make the right decisions with consideration to the communities we serve.
“The ocean is the largest life-sustaining resource on earth, and we all have a responsibility to preserve it. Humans rely on the ocean for food and transport, and it regulates our climate and is home to an abundance of biodiversity. This is why environmental sustainability has continued to be a part of our growth strategy which is further encapsulated in our World Without Waste agenda. Our vision as a System is a world where plastic does not become waste, and this requires very urgent action and collaboration.”
He explained, ” As leading manufacturers, we recognize our obligation to contribute towards ensuring a safer and healthier environment and preserving the future for the generations to come. This cleanup exercise not only reflects our commitment to this objective but is also a great opportunity to drive progress in our immediate communities and beyond.”
Present at the event were the Managing Director, Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Ibrahim Odumboni; General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Dr. Dolapo Fasewe, Ministry of Environment representative Micheal Bankole, Doyinsola Ogunye, Founder, Recycling Scheme for Women and Youth Empowerment (RESWAYE), amongst many others.
MD LAWMA, Odumboni, said the exercise is laudable as ‘’there is a constant need to intercept plastic waste so that it does not outnumber us and pose a threat to our environment’’. He stated that a value chain on plastic and waste management has been created with support from waste management agencies, food and beverage organizations and recycling partners to make plastic a resource for wealth, in contrast to the previous belief about plastic.
Dr. Fasawe, MD LASEPA, was overjoyed that plastic management and environmental sustainability organizers, stakeholders, and volunteers came out in force to accomplish what they often want people to do. She suggested that the beach cleanup be expanded beyond cleaning the beach and carried to markets, rural regions, parks, and other locations to educate people about the need to properly dispose of plastic.
According to Bankole, this advocacy is in line with the Ministry of Environment’s focus on developing and enforcing environmental and water policies to enable a clean and sustainable environment. He requested for more collaboration with stakeholders to achieve circularity in Lagos State