In commemoration of World Environment Day, Coca-Cola Nigeria, through recycling initiatives across Nigeria, reiterated its commitment to the support of environmental protection and sustainability in Nigeria.
Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on June 5, engaging governments, businesses and citizens to address pressing environmental issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to several restrictions, including the lockdown which kept residents confined indoors. This development saw the environment benefit slightly, affording the ecosystem time to engineer some restoration. This insight informed the theme for this year’s celebration, aptly titled ‘Ecosystem Restoration’.
At the forefront of this global movement is Coca-Cola, whose environmental sustainability initiatives are driven by its “World Without Waste” mandate, which fosters partnership with multiple stakeholders, including fellow industry players, governments, and civil society organisations, to ensure continued leadership in reducing its carbon footprint. By 2030, Coca-Cola aims to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one sold by the company. In addition, the company is working to design better bottles with 18% less plastic to make all its consumer packaging 100% recyclable globally.
As part of World Environment Day activities, implementing partners — SWEEP Foundation, Recycle Points, AREAi and W.A.S.T.E Africa — with support from Coca-Cola Nigeria and its philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, kicked off numerous activities to aid environmental sustainability across key areas in the country.
The Statewide Waste and Environmental Education Foundation (SWEEP Foundation) launched the Eko Beach Race 2021 with the theme ‘A Race Against Plastic Pollution’, in celebration of World Environment Day. The event saw over 2000 young people, students, and sports enthusiasts participate in a marathon race and a beach clean-up. According to Obuesi Phillips, President of SWEEP Foundation, the event was ‘geared towards recognising the growing contributions of sport to the realisation of societal development’.
In addition, the Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), another implementing partner supported by Coca-Cola Nigeria, hosted a “Recycle and Win” Festival. The event included community outreach programmes in Kwara State and clean-ups in Kano, Kaduna, Yobe and Oyo States. Through the event, the initiative sought to recover 10 tons of plastic bottles across all the locations.
Similarly, Chanja Datti, in collaboration with The CANS and Coca-Cola Nigeria, launched an event titled ‘Art of Upcycling Fair: Turning Waste to Beauty’. The event seeks to showcase ten upcycling artists turning waste into remarkable works of art in line with ecosystem restoration.
Recognising the need to prevent, halt and reverse the damage to the Earth’s ecosystem, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, urged Nigerians to adopt more eco-friendly practices while emphasising the urgency of the current global situation.
“At Coca-Cola, we recognise there is a packaging waste problem globally and especially in Nigeria, which is why we pioneered the World Without Waste initiative to engineer innovative solutions to tackle this challenge. World Environment Day presents an opportunity for us to act on this mandate as seen by the number of environmental sustainability initiatives we have supported in collaboration with local implementing partners. Ultimately, we seek to drive, create, and accelerate the retrieval and recycling of our packaging, in a bid to aid our environment’s healing”, she said.
Recently, one of the company’s Foundation-funded recycling programs, “Recycling Scheme for Women and Youth Empowerment” (RESWAYE), targeted at recovering ocean plastics and implemented in partnership with local NGO, Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC), reported a plastic waste retrieval of over 159,000KG across coastlines and shorelines in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos all geared towards ecosystem restoration.