Coca-Cola, through its philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) has recently provided a grant to the Initiative For The Advancement of Waste Management in Africa (W.A.S.T.E AFRICA), a non-governmental organisation, to promote waste as a valuable currency for social good and economic inclusion through the establishment of green recycling hubs across Abuja.
The NGO whose mission is to increase awareness of WASTE challenges and solutions specially targeted at women and at-risk youths in Abuja. The funding received will be used to build seven solar-powered recycling hubs in satellite towns such as Nyanya, Zuba, Bwari, Kuje, Gwagwalada, Jikwoyi and Galadimawa, communities where residents will be encouraged to adopt the habit of recycling and turn their waste into wealth, while the eighth solar-powered recycling hub to be built in a low-income suburb of Lagos.
Speaking on the NGO’s objectives with the recycling hubs, Olufunto Boroffice, Convener of W.A.S.T.E Africa explained, “Adequate financing for collection and disposal of plastic waste is one of the biggest issues impacting recycling in Nigeria. A primary challenge is the scaled recovery of plastic bottles. I am thankful to The Coca-Cola Foundation for providing the funds to expand our operations, enabling us to create eight green recycling hubs, empowering over 3,000 waste pickers and women, many of whom are living in indigent homes with little or no educational backgrounds”.
Beneficiaries of The Coca-Cola Foundation funding to W.A.S.T.E Africa will include over 1,600 women who will be recruited as waste pickers and sorters in these communities. For these women, knowledge about waste separation and sorting of recyclable material will provide an economic lifeline especially in this period where millions of Nigerians are losing their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The women waste pickers will be provided with financial literacy, safety training and as well as the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The NGO will also be launching the Bottles for Books initiative. Through this project 800 out-of-school children will be enrolled in the educational system. Using recyclable waste as a currency, out-of-school children in Kabusa, Kpaduma, Gwagwalada and Kubwa communities will be enrolled in schools guaranteeing their right to quality education. In addition, Project Protect 10,000 (P10K) initiative will also be launched. Through this project, 1,000 waste pickers or ‘scavengers’ are going to be supported with genuine social inclusion programs with opportunities throughout the broader economy. The waste pickers will be provided with financial literacy, safety training as well as the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). They will also gain access to financial inclusion and literacy training.
Speaking at the launch ceremony in Abuja, the Honorable Minister of State for the FCT, Hajia (Dr.) Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu remarked, “The scheme will empower the youths and at the same time clean the environment. This is an igneous way of getting money through trash. So, I want to congratulate Nyanya women and youths and also call on them to ensure that they use this scheme judiciously by picking up some litres that can be exchanged for wealth.”
Nigeria generates over 32 million tons of solid waste annually, out of which an average of 20% is collected. Many cities in Nigeria face serious plastic waste management challenges. With cities collecting less than half of the waste generated, inappropriate waste disposal practices have become rampant with plastic waste being dumped in our drainage systems or on our roads. Given the rapid rate of urbanization, plastic pollution has become a blight in our cities, harming our rivers and oceans. Now more than ever, the government, citizens and organisations need to rethink the country’s sustainability landscape, leveraging recycling as a means of job creation.
Speaking on the grant awarded, the Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, remarked “Plastic pollution is a problem that our company is committed to solving. Our vision for a World Without Waste focuses on recycling and behavioural-change projects. We believe projects such as the Cash 4 Trash initiative by W.A.S.T.E Africa are an effective means of working together to create shared value and deliver real change”.
Coca-Cola continues to work towards building a World Without Waste through the continuous funding of recycling initiatives in Nigeria such as the partnership with a private investor, Alkem Nigeria Limited, to set up a large scale recovery and buyback scheme for PET bottles which were recycled into synthetic fibre from 2005 to 2011 until the operations became self-sustaining. Coca-Cola’s outreach to other leading beverage companies led to the formation of the first Producer Responsibility Organization for the Food and Beverage sector known as the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA).
Also noteworthy is Coca-Cola’s funding to support several key projects across Nigeria such as the African Clean Up Initiative Recycles Pay and Clean-up Naija projects, RESWAYE by MEDIC and now Cash 4 Trash by W.A.S.T.E Africa. The company continues to lead the way by helping to collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030, as part of its global World Without Waste vision.