Humanity is blessed with the earth – one of the most natural resources ever known. This gift of nature is the magnanimity of elements such as air, water and fire. Earth otherwise known as Mother Nature is the keeper of what makes life so unique and special. Thus, a thick ball strung together by the crust, the inner and outer core of races from different continents of the world.
Every year, World Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd as a day that raises awareness on the degradation and possible extinction of our planet. This year’s theme, “Invest in Our Planet” suggests a more pragmatic approach towards the kind disposition with the environment and, purposefully, reaching out and collaborating with others in raising high the flag of advocating a safer environment.
According to Environmentalists and Climate Change experts, one of the rising concerns of the earth is the climate change phenomenon. This is attributed to the release of hazardous gaseous substances into the air and the indiscriminate disposal of industrial waste. However, leading organisations around the world are now taking initiative to preserve the earth by advocating for energy and water reduction, pollution, and waste management.
Leading this charge is The Coca-Cola Company, who through its longstanding mission of making a difference in communities across the world, continues to deliver on this promise through its diverse sustainability commitments. In 2022, Coca-Cola launched its Africa Sustainability Platform, JAMII, focused on three strategic pillars where it has made considerable progress to deepen its ESG impact; water leadership, women and youth economic empowerment and packaging waste management.
With its focus on water, climate, energy, and waste management among others, The Coca-Cola System in Nigeria comprising Coca-Cola Nigeria and its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), consistently displays its commitment to investing in our planet by supporting a better shared future for communities and minimizing its impact on the environment.
Sustainable Packaging and Environmental Sustainability
As one of the key players in the global business space, The Coca-Cola Company in 2018, announced its World Without Waste commitment to help collect and recycle the equivalent of a bottle or can for every one the company sells by 2030; to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2025; and to use at least 50% recycled material in its packaging by 2030.
This initiative has impacted the production and packaging of plastic bottles in ways that help curb the adverse effects of climate change. Following exact scientific procedure on the company’s Science-Based Target for climate, there has been an introduction of substitution of fossil fuel with plant-based outputs. Other adopted strategies include lightweighting packaging bottles, production of refillables and encouraging recycling programmes to recover PET packaging.
This objective is shared by the company and its local bottling partner in Nigeria, Nigerian Bottling Company, who as a pioneer in sustainable manufacturing, invests in strategies that significantly bolster its efforts in the areas of energy use reduction, water use reduction, emissions reduction, and waste output reduction. As a result, 50% of its production operations are now partially powered by solar energy, with photovoltaic cells delivering up to 3,640 Kilowatt peak power output (KWp) to its plants.
Over the years, The Coca-Cola System in Nigeria, in collaboration with other recycling partners, has co-created environmental sustainability programs that has helped to deepen the thrust of its sustainability agenda. Some of these programs include Recycling Scheme for Women and Youth Empowerment (RESWAYE) by MEDIC, RecyclesPay by African Cleanup Initiative, Waste in the City and the Green Campus Project by SWEEP Foundation, Tidy Nigeria by FABE Foundation, Cash 4 Trash by WASTE Africa, Project Revive and Project DORI by Recycle Points, Waste to Wealth by Do Good Foundation, Empowering Collectors Initiative by Growing Business Foundation and Cycleplast by Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre.
Over 4 billion plastic bottles have been extracted collectively, while also assisting in the scaling and establishment of 23 small to medium-sized collectors and aggregators, which are in turn producing thousands of employments in their local environments.
In addition to this, Coca-Cola Nigeria, through an industry-wide move facilitated the creation of the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) – a coalition of forward-looking companies united by a shared concern for the environment. The coalition has evolved from a four-member group to 30 big organizations with a commitment to build a sustainable recycling economy for food and beverage packaging waste. FBRA and its members have been able to shape public policy and take action that supports a circular economy and the evolution of waste management in Nigeria.
The organization’s water leadership efforts supports its climate targets by not only helping to reduce carbon emissions through efficiency and reuse but also creating significant ecosystem and carbon benefits through nature-based solutions and replenishment.
The company in 2021, announced a holistic water strategy which aims to achieve water security across its operations, local watersheds and communities. The goals related to the strategy’s key focus areas include:
Achieve 100% circular water use – or regenerative water use across 175 facilities identified as “leadership locations” by 2030.
Work with partners to help improve the health of 60 watersheds identified as most critical for the company’s operations and agricultural supply chains by 2030.
Aim to return a cumulative total of 2 trillion liters of water to nature and communities globally, between 2021 – 2030.
In driving goal 3, The Coca-Cola Foundation’s flagship program, Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) was introduced to address Africa’s water challenges through healthy watershed programmes and community water programs. The Pan-African program aligns with the company’s global vision to replenish water in communities they operate and source ingredients through strategic partnerships in order to deliver sustainable projects, aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 which is Clean water and Sanitation for all.
The program which was managed by the Global Environment and Technology Foundation (GETF) ran in two phases. At the end of the second phase in 2020, it recorded a positive impact of over 7 million people across the continent. The program replenished over 20 billion liters of water to communities and nature, improving access to water, health and sanitation which in turn improved hygiene behaviours, established and enhanced sustainable water management practices, improved environmental stewardship and community health and promoted efficient and sustainable use of water for economic development.
To further drive the goal of water replenishment, The Coca-Cola Foundation has provided over $1.3million to two NGOs namely the Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) for Disaster Risk Reduction and Urban Resilience in Imo state; and GETF who is partnering with WaterAid on an 18-month project targeted at improving access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene services in four communities within and around the Maiduguri Metropolis of Borno State.
With its giant strides in areas of climate change advocacy and circular economy, The Coca-Cola Company has indeed proven its unshaken commitment towards preserving the earth for future generations and continues to take concrete steps to invest in our planet.