Beaches and waterways in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia received a welcome freshening up on International Coastal and River Cleanup Day this year as teams of volunteers supported by Coca-Cola Beverages Africa sprang into action to collect plastic waste.
The Coca-Cola Company launched its World Without Waste global initiative in 2018. It aims to rethink how bottles are designed, collected, recycled, and repurposed. While Coca-Cola uses many types of packaging, including glass bottles, aluminium cans, and paper cups, the focus is on leading the collection of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste through a comprehensive strategy.
The company has committed to an ambitious goal to collect at least 100% of the recyclable PET and aluminium cans it sells by 2030.
In South Africa, beaches in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape were thoroughly cleaned up during September when volunteers embarked on an annual widescale coastal clean-up sponsored by Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) in partnership with local government departments and community members.
“Community clean-ups and awareness form a vital element of our World Without Waste strategy, and this year, we made sure that all hygiene protocols were observed and strictly adhered to, keeping all volunteers safe. Even under strict lockdown restrictions, we have managed to collect 700 large bags of recyclable materials in three clean-ups,” says Nolundi Mzimba, Coastal Region Public Affairs Manager at CCBSA.
This year’s beach clean-ups attracted 220 volunteers and were sponsored by CCBSA, with the support of the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), Matongoni Recycling, and logistics operator Phambili SCS.
“While we continue to collect and recycle waste material to reduce air, water, and environmental pollution, real transformation will happen when we have created awareness and partnerships in every community,” says Mzimba. “Not only do we need to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and proper disposal of waste, but we have to provide communities with economic opportunities in the waste economy.
“Through our various partnerships with schools, industry partners and recycling companies on the ground, we are making significant headway in ensuring that waste in South African communities is collected and processed thoroughly, while offering local people the opportunity to sell material they collect to earn an extra income,” concludes Mzimba.
CCBA in Mozambique has partnered with the Maputo City Municipality to offer a voluntary beach cleanup service for a section of beach since 2017. The service is performed by a contracted cleaning company, with 12 dedicated women employees, through a ZAR 10 000 per month investment by the company.
As an extension of this initiative, CCBA also supports the collection of PET at Macaneta beach, located in Marracuene district, 30km from Maputo, in partnership with an environmental NGO named REPENSAR. CCBA covers the cost of transporting the collected waste to a local recycling company that converts it into washed flakes which are then exported to South Africa.
More than a tonne of PET is collected each month in this project, which will soon be expanded across the district following a memorandum signed between REPENSAR and the government of Marracuene district on International Coastal and River Cleanup Day.
In Zambia, the banks of the Kafubu River at Ndola were the focus of attention. The river supplies water to most parts of the Copper Belt, and CCBA in Zambia partnered with the local government and other stakeholders to lead a clean-up of plastic waste. CCBA in Zambia donated PPE of full worksuits, gumboots and rubber gloves to the volunteers and staff of Ndola City Council and well as the Kafubu Water & Sewerage Company. CCBA Zambia also donated 88 cases of assorted beverages for the onsite volunteers.
In Namibia, CCBA teamed up with the NGO Namibia Cleaning Awareness Systems Reward (NAMCASA) to host clean-up campaigns around the country, with the main event taking place in Katima Mulilo.
CCBA in Namibia donated 7x500ml cases of Bonaqua Water, 10x300ml cases of Coke with no sugar and 10x30ml cases of Fanta to support the hard-working volunteers.