Coca-Cola has continued to lead the way by helping to collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for everyone it sells by 2030, as part of its global World Without Waste vision.
One of such projects through which the Company aims to achieve this is the Recycling Scheme for Women and Youth Empowerment (RESWAYE), an environmental sustainability and women empowerment initiative, sponsored by The Coca-Cola Foundation.
The project has come to an end but not without impressive results.
The project, executed by implementing partners, the Mental and Environmental Development Initiative for Children (MEDIC), to drive environmental protection, marine conservation, and women empowerment, concluded with a closing ceremony at Ibeju Lekki on Friday, May 21, 2021.
Present at the event were key government dignitaries, community leaders, and Coca-Cola representatives including Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Ifeyinwa Ejindu, Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Doyinsola Ogunye, Founder, MEDIC; Barr. Mrs Rhoda Ogunye, Trustee, MEDIC; Chief Olalekan Bakare, Secretary to the Apapa Local Government Council and Chairman of the body of secretaries to Local Govts and LCDAs in Lagos (Scribes57); Chief Tajudeen Adams, Baale Of Igbolomi and Chairman of Baales, Ibeju-Lekki LCDA; Honourable Tosin Osunnuga, Secretary to the Local Government, Lekki LCDA; Honourable Semiu Waliu, Secretary to the Local Government Council, Ibeju Lekki; and Ogunlana Olaseni, Head, Recycling, Lekki Free Trade Zone, East District 2, Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).
Launched in 2020, the RESWAYE project was developed following concerns around Nigeria’s increasingly polluted shorelines and coastal lines as Nigeria is reported to generate 32 million tonnes of plastic waste every year with the majority ending up in landfills, beaches, and other water bodies.
Through the initiative, Coca-Cola sought to tackle this challenge while ensuring women’s economic empowerment within the target communities.
As a result, the initiative was incentivised, providing low-income communities in the Ibeju Lekki area with an opportunity to earn an income while ensuring marine and environmental conservation.
After 18 months of enlisting women and young people in the plastic buy-back scheme across 16 coastal communities in Ibeju Lekki, the project recorded impressive numbers at its conclusion with over 150,000kg of plastic waste reportedly removed from the coastal and shorelines; over 2000 women and youth empowered economically, and 2,124 households impacted – resulting in over 13,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries.
Speaking at the event, the Director, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, lauded the initiative and emphasised the need for corporations to scale up efforts to alleviate the country’s burgeoning plastic waste problem.
“At Coca-Cola, we are aware of the devastating implications of climate change on our environment, health and economy at large. The RESWAYE project was developed to combat this looming problem, and I am pleased with what we have achieved over the past 18 months. By partnering with credible NGOs such as MEDIC, we developed an effective recycling system that met the unique needs of the Ibeju Lekki communities, making recycling more accessible to everyone while also ensuring the economic empowerment of women and youths”, she stated.
The founder of MEDIC, Doyinsola Ogunye, added, “Seeing the impact we have made in these communities through our network of women and youth recyclers over the past 18 months has been deeply fulfilling. Through Coca-Cola’s support, we have ensured the economic empowerment of women, looked after communities, and cleared an inordinate amount of plastic waste from the oceans even in the turbulent times experienced last year”.
The Secretary to the Local Government Lekki LGA, Chief Olalekan Bakare, also lauded the initiative, commending Coca-Cola for “devising a creative solution to our community’s waste problem” and urged more corporate bodies to do more.
The RESWAYE project is in line with Coca-Cola’s “World Without Waste” mandate which fosters collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including partners, governments, and civil society organisations like MEDIC, to foster continued leadership in reducing its carbon footprint. By 2030, Coca-Cola also aims to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one sold by the company.
According to Nwamaka, Coca-Cola will continue to work with communities to better understand their recycling and collection challenges while engendering a recycling culture amongst residents.