After growing from a local initiative in 2008 to an international movement in 2018, the United Nations (UN) sets aside September 17 to be celebrated annually as World Clean- up Day. This day is marked to raise awareness of the prevalent waste crisis affecting the world today. In tackling this issue, the UN movement brings together millions of volunteers, governments, and organisations across various countries, to participate in clean up actions as one of the many ways to build a new and sustainable waste-free world. This has captured the attention of people worldwide, who have been in- spired to follow suit with the same ambitious ‘one country, one-day’ formula. This global movement has moved way beyond just picking up lit- ter, to a point where citizens are conscious of keeping their environment clean by disposing of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste properly. Poor waste disposal is one of the major environmental problems that developing nations face. The lack of efficient waste management, if un- abated, will continue to pose a harmful risk to citizens’ health, drainage, environment, society, and economy. Careless dumping of refuse into drainages, failure to recycle recyclables, and garbage burning are com- mon practices amongst Nigerians which perversely produce gastroin- testinal, dermatological, respiratory, genetic, and other adverse effects.
Recycling The Coca-Cola system in Nigeria, alongside its philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, has been instrumental in championing recycling knowledge and awareness around effective waste management, how to create wealth from waste, favour- able and safe living conditions for Nigerians, and taking action with its partners towards the reduction of environmental degradation. Beyond marking the World Clean- up Day, Coca-Cola engages in com- munity sensitisation of rural and urban communities across Nigeria, advocating for behavioural change toward waste recovery and recycling. Through its African Sustainability platform, JAMII, the organisation has continued to foster collective action and partnerships across in- dustries, government, and society to address PET waste challenges. JAMII was launched to build and expand on the past accomplishments of The Co- ca-Cola Company across three core areas, namely waste management, water stewardship, and economic empowerment of women and youth. Environmental sustainability With a vision to develop a circular economy through its waste manage- ment initiatives, Coca-Cola Nigeria has been championing environmental sustainability to enable the col- lection and recycling of 100 per cent of every bottle or can it sells by 2030, make the company’s packaging 100 per cent recyclable by 2025, and use at least 50 per cent recycled content in its packaging by 2030.
This vision is being implemented in partnership with like-minded partners and non- governmental organisations (NGOs) to support a healthy and debris-free environment. According to Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, the organisation has pledged its commit- ment to waste recovery and thereforeorganises signature interventions ranging from volunteer clean-up exercises to waste management interventions across Nigeria. “There is a clear gap in the area of sustainable infrastructure and effective waste management.
This is why Coca-Cola Nigeria continues to form partnerships with various stakeholders like civil societies, the Recyclers Association of Nigeria, customers and government agen- cies to build effective and innovative waste management infrastructures that contribute to sustainable waste management,” Nwamaka noted. NGOs “In executing interventions, we have over the years, supported and funded NGOs such as the Growing Businesses Foundation, Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre, FABE International Foundation, African Clean Up Initiative, Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC), Statewide Waste and Environmental Education Foundation (SWEEP), Platform for Society Support Initiative, Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), Do Good Social Impact Foundation, WASTE AFRICA, and RecyclePoints Foundation—to bridge the gap in waste management, especially through advocacy campaigns and providing recycling infrastructure closer to households in remote communities.
“This means pen- etrating specific communities to raise awareness of waste management and recycling to drive home the social and even economic benefits available to us all,” she explained. Packaging waste To rid Lagos State’s waterways of plastic and packaging waste, five com- panies, comprising Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company, Nestle Nigeria Plc., Seven-Up Bottling Company, and Ni- gerian Breweries Plc., signed a Memo- randum of Understanding (MoU), four years ago, with the Lagos State Govern- ment to rid Lagos waterways of packag- ing waste. Today, the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) has evolved to over 28 member companies support- ing over 12 packaging aggregators to recover post-consumer waste from the environment. Recently, The Coca-Cola Founda- tion (TCCF) funded a recycling proj- ect in Lagos, Nigeria, implemented by the FABE International Founda- tion, and tagged “TidyNigeria”. The project is set to educate, sensitise, promote waste recovery, and encour- age households and communities to subscribe to the intentional and proper sorting of waste from source in exchange for value. Coca-Cola’s long-term environ- mental sustainability interventions resonate and flow seamlessly into the core vision of World Cleanup Day, which is the world’s largest single- day civic action. World Cleanup Day is not just about clean-ups; it is also about a strong and unique network of doers who share the vision of a waste-free world