Initiative Reduces Litter, Provides Jobs and Supports Local Industries

Across Nigeria’s cities and villages, as in many other developing countries, solid waste, including PET bottles and other non-biodegradable materials, end up at dumpsites and landfills, often clogging drains and waterways, contributing to health and environmental issues. In response to this challenge, in 2005, Coca-Cola, in collaboration with Alkem Nigeria Limited, a synthetic fiber manufacturer, initiated a buyback and recycling scheme for used PET bottles, regardless of source or brand. Together, the partners launched Nigeria’s first bottles-to-fiber recycling operation. Coca-Cola is the only player in the beverage sector that is investing in this initiative and was joined in 2009 by its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company Limited.

Coca-Cola funded the creation of the first two collection centers in Lagos, October 2005, and continues to subsidize the cost collection (buyback) to help sustain the project, which has grown to include more than 22 collection centers across 10 cities. The volume of recycled bottles has grown from 135 tons in 2005 to more than 6,200 tons in 2012, with a total of nearly 26,000 tons recycled since project inception.

In addition to reducing litter from PET bottles, the project employs an estimated 1,500 people, with many earning more than US$6 a day, in a country where about 70 percent of the population lives on less than US$2 a day. The synthetic fiber produced is valuable raw material that supports various local industries in producing textiles, mattresses, pillows, sofas, roofing sheets and insulation for buildings.

For its investment and support, Coca-Cola received the “Best Company in the Environment” and “Most Socially Responsible Company in Nigeria” awards in 2011. As of July 2013, three leading beverage companies had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Coca-Cola to support the project through the formation of a beverage industry coalition on PET recycling, with plans to launch by end of 2013. The vision is to initiate the establishment of a unified recycling industry for Africa. The project supports Coca-Cola’s commitment to recover and recycle its packaging into valuable resource for future use.