The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded grants to the Africa Clean Up Initiative, pioneers of the famous Recycles Pay and Clean-Up Naija project. This is in line with Coca-Cola’s commitment to fostering a World Without Waste, as these grants are aimed at bolstering efforts to reduce waste created by food and beverage packaging waste and other non-biodegradable substances.

The financial grants will help fund the expansion of the Recycles Pay project, which had immense success in the pilot phase, as well as the Clean Up Naija initiative.

This Recycles Pay is a remarkable program targeted at low-tuition schools, in which parents have the opportunity to pay their ward’s fees with plastic bottles. It is an initiative created to provide solutions to educational and environmental issues in rural areas of Nigeria. To help increase the capacity of the project, The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded grants towards ensuring that a minimum of 20 new schools are reached across multiple states with about 2,000 children kept in school through this initiative. The Recycles Pay Educational Project launched on February 7, 2020, at Isrina Schools, Ajegunle, Lagos with excited parents and teachers in attendance.

The second project, Clean Up Naija, is community-led and will be carried out across multiple states in a bid to deliver a clean and healthy environment. The initiative seeks to get volunteers to help clean-up communities to foment a cleaner and more sustainable environment. African Clean Up Initiative, with the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation grant, targets to achieve 20 cleanup events across Nigeria within the calendar year. The series of cleanups are poised to kick off on February 22 at Obalende- Lagos.

Extending his gratitude to The Coca-Cola Foundation for the grants awarded, Alexander Akhigbe, founder of the African Clean Up Initiative, said: “I would like to thank The Coca-Cola Foundation for awarding us with these incredible grants. To be noticed by them shows that we have done important work so far. These grants will no doubt prove useful in increasing our capacity as an organisation and helping us impact more lives through our projects.”

Speaking on the grants awarded, the Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Manager Coca-Cola Nigeria; Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, remarked on the company’s efforts at creating shared opportunities in communities where they do business.

“The Coca-Cola Foundation is delighted to partner with The African Clean Up Initiative to upscale the Recyclespay and Cleanup Naija projects. This is an important partnership for underserved communities – ensuring children from underprivileged homes remain in school and identifying new ways to prevent plastic waste from littering our environment and entering our rivers and oceans.

“The World Without Waste strategy of The Coca-Cola Company and The Foundation’s focus on recycling and behavioural-change projects highlight the need for greater collaboration between business, governments, charitable organizations, researchers and NGOs to make this happen. We believe projects such as the Recycles pay and Clean-up Naija programs are a real and effective means of working together to deliver real change around the world.”

Educational Secretary, Akeromi-Ifelodun L.G.A, Hon. Aboluwodi Solomon, lauded the Recycles Pay initiative and praised The Coca-Cola Foundation for supporting it: “I am very delighted to see the smiles on these parents’ faces. You can tell that their lives have been impacted and that makes me very happy. I would also like to thank Coca-Cola for supporting this project, this initiative is an important and innovative one and their support means many more many children can get access to education while also ensuring that our environment is being rid of plastic waste.” He further stated that this ties into the Lagos State Blue box programme and gave his commitment to ensure that more schools in Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government join this noble initiative.

One of the recipients, Patience Onukwu, expressed her gratitude to the African Clean Up Initiative and Coca-Cola. According to her, the Recycles Pay program has given her and her kids a new lease on life: “When I heard of Recycles Pay and what it was about, I could not believe it. Using plastic to pay your child’s school fees? I thought it was a lie until I decided to try my hand. Today all my 3 children’s school fees are paid from plastic packaging waste proceeds. Recyclepays program has changed my life and that of my children for the better and I cannot thank the organisers enough.” she said.

Since its launch in 1984, The Coca-Cola Foundation offers community support programs that have led to the improvement of the quality of life of the communities around the World. Driven by a need to create a better-shared future for the communities we live and work in, The Coca-Cola Foundation has contributed more than $1 billion to help protect the environment, promote recycling, empower women and enhance communities around the world.