By Vanessa Obioha
The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) recently provided a grant to a non-governmental organisation, Initiative For The Advancement of Waste Management in Africa (W.A.S.T.E AFRICA), to promote waste as valuable currency for social, good and economic inclusion through the establishment of green recycling hubs across Abuja and Lagos.
“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,” said the Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe.
The NGO will use the funding 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 will be built in a low-income suburb of Lagos.
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 TCCF 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).
In addition, the NGO will 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. Other projects to be launched include Project Protect 10,000 (P10K) initiative which will support 1,000 waste pickers or scavengers with financial literacy, safety training as well as the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
Speaking at the launch ceremony in Abuja, the Minister of State for the FCT, Ramatu 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.”
Other projects supported by the company include African Clean Up Initiative, Recycles Pay and Clean-up Naija, and the Recycling Scheme for Women and Youth Empowerment (RESWAYE).