Coca-Cola’s commitment to investing in our planet and in its packaging has earned the company multiple awards at the Environmental Sustainability Conference, Expo, and Awards (ECOSEA), organised by ImpactReports Africa and Brand Communicator.
This reaffirms that for Coca-Cola Nigeria, environmental sustainability goes beyond one-off philanthropic interventions to long-term commitments.
Launched this year, the maiden edition of ECOSEA saw the convergence of public and private sector stakeholders in the environmental sustainability space, deliberate on Smarter Waste Management for Safer Cities, The Role of Communication in Environmental Sustainability, and Net Zero Emissions: The Journey to 2060.
In his welcome address, Joshua Ajayi, convener, ECOSEA, described it as an annual platform that champions the cause of environmentally sustainable actions in Africa. With the evolution of corporate sustainability practices from corporate philanthropy into an integral part of business models and operations, Coca-Cola Nigeria is blazing trails and transforming communities.
With two recognitions, Coca-Cola emerged as the winner in both categories, namely ‘Award for the Most Outstanding Beverage Company in Environmental Sustainability’ and ‘Award for the Eco-Friendly Bottled Water Brand of the Year’.
Additionally, director, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe emerged ‘Environmental Sustainability Professional of the Year’.
Speaking during a panel discussion, themed “Smart Waste Management for Safer Cities”, Onyemelukwe explained that Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste initiative is anchored by three fundamental goals: making 100 per cent of its packaging, recyclable globally by 2025— and using at least 50 per cent recycled material in its packaging by 2030 (Design); collecting and recycling a bottle or can for each one it sells by 2030 (Collect); and bringing people together to support a healthy, debris-free environment (Partner).
She also informed that in February 2022, Coca-Cola announced an industry-leading reusable packaging goal which states that by 2030, the organization aims to have at least 25% of its beverages worldwide by volume sold in refillable/returnable glass or plastic bottles or in fountain dispensers with reusable packaging.
This builds on its already strong track record with refillable packaging, especially in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
Another packaging innovation by Coca-Cola is the Sprite packaging transition. Sprite, one of its largest global sparkling soft drink brands, transitioned from its iconic green bottles to clear PET to enable easier conversion into new bottles by increasing the supply of high-value recycled plastic in the after-use market, Onyemelukwe added.
Indeed, in its journey towards achieving “A Safer Environment”, through investments in recycling interventions and innovative packaging, reduction of Green House Gas Emissions, and increase of water security, Coca-Cola Nigeria’s sustainability actions are well-deserving of these accolades.
Nigeria is ranked 168 out of 180 countries in the Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2022. The country had a score of 28.32 out of 100 for “environment and sustainability,” placing it 41st out of 46 sub-Saharan nations. This was published in a 2022 report by researchers from Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network and Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy.
This indicates that the most populous country in Africa struggles to safeguard its people from environmental health concerns that include poor air quality, heavy metals, sanitary conditions, unsafe drinking water, and waste management.
It is within this context that Coca-Cola Nigeria is working with social enterprises and organisations with a focus on the circular economy to deal with plastic waste and contribute towards improving Nigeria’s environmental sustainability performance.