The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) has recently awarded a grant of $85,000 to a non-governmental organisation, Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi), towards implementing a plastic recovery programme to promote community recycling efforts and boost the economic empowerment of women and environmental awareness across Nigeria.
The grant provided to the organization would be used to curb plastic pollution in six states across the federation through recovery and repurposing of 600 tons of PET Bottles in 12 months.
This is in line with the organisation’s pioneering initiative, EducationInBottles, which seeks to convert plastic waste into modular bricks for the provision of community learning centres for out-of-school children, particularly girls.
Beneficiaries of this TCCF funding to AREAi will include over 60 communities in FCT, Yobe, Kano, Kaduna, Kwara and Oyo States where periodic recycling activities will take place and over 300 women will be recruited as waste pickers and sorters in these communities.
These female waste collectors will be adequately trained on financial literacy and environmental safety practices, equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and empowered through a trash-for-cash recovery scheme.
Recycling stations would be instituted across these states with public recycling bins also distributed to strategic locations to drive effective recycling processes and activities in the various communities.
Extending his gratitude to The Coca-Cola Foundation for the grant awarded, Gideon Olanrewaju, Founder of AREAi said: “I would like to thank The Coca-Cola Foundation for providing us with this funding support at this crucial period. Our organisation is passionate about how plastic waste can be recovered and diverted away from drainages, landfills and gutters. Through this support, we have been provided with the opportunity to promote recycling across communities which would no doubt allow us to advance our mission to repurpose plastic bottles to impact thousands of lives through our initiative projects”.
Speaking on the grant awarded, the Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability Manager Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Nwamaka Onyemelukwe; remarked on the company’s efforts in creating shared opportunities across communities where they do business saying, “Coca-Cola remains committed to addressing the issue of plastic pollution across the world. Our vision for a World Without Waste focuses on recycling and behavioural-change initiatives. We believe projects such as the Mission Zero Plastic by Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative are an effective means of working together to create shared value and deliver real change”.
It is expected that within a year, the Mission Zero Plastic project funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation will promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of community recycling programs particularly by transforming the plastic waste crisis into employment opportunities for the marginalized groups like women.
This will also promote learning and skills development opportunities for girls and environmental stewardship opportunities for communities; all of these while promoting best practices in waste management and recycling to ensure a clean and healthy environment in its 6 states of implementation namely: Oyo, Kwara, Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi States and the Federal Capital Territory.