By Eugene Atte, Head of Packaging at Nestle Central West and Africa Region
The image of a tiny seahorse, its tail wrapped around a thrown-away cotton
bud, floating in polluted waters off would usually make headlines around
For many people, it was a stark illustration of the extent to which plastic
pollution is threatening our environment, particularly our oceans and
coastlines. We are reminded of this powerful and disturbing photo from 2017
on this year’s World Environment Day,
which is dedicated to the theme of ‘Beating Plastic Pollution’.
In Central and West Africa, the problem of plastic waste is a major
environmental issue for many urban and peri-urban settlements. Ghana has a
population of more than 28 million and is one of the fastest-growing
economies in the world today. A recent
article in Quartz Africa
reported Accra alone generates about 3,000 tonnes of waste a day. That is
the equivalent weight of ten Boeing 747 airliners. It is why transitioning
to a more
on plastics in Ghana, and many other countries in the region and beyond,
has such huge potential.
It is true that a lot of informal recycling already goes on, with many
innovative small businesses and NGOs working on novel ways to reuse
plastics. However, there is currently no major recycling infrastructure or
related incentives in place to deal with this volume of waste.
At Nestlé, we are committed to playing an active role in the development of
well-functioning collection, sorting and recycling schemes across all the
countries where we operate through collaborating with other stakeholders.
We not only believe we have to play our part, but we’re also doing
something about it.
In April 2018, as a Group we set the
to make 100% of our packaging either recyclable or re-usable by 2025.
Packaging is fundamental to our business. It plays a crucial role in
delivering safe, high quality food to our consumers, as well as reducing
However, we must to do more to make sure the packaging we use is
sustainable. This includes: eliminating non-recyclable plastics,
encouraging the use of plastics that allow better recycling rates, and
eliminating or changing complex combination of materials, while always
optimising the packaging we use.
This vision – for none of our packaging, including plastics, to end up in
landfill or as litter – is global in vision but local in execution.
We are proud as a company to have made such an
, which is an essential part of enhancing quality of life and contributing
to a healthier future.
In Central and West Africa, we’ll be doing everything we can to get behind
this effort. We’re proud to say that we are one of the founding members of
Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises
(GRIPE), supporting the government’s efforts in managing plastic waste. As
one of eight members in the coalition, we’re working with other major
industrial companies to integrate sustainable waste management solutions
and advocate for improved waste management practices in Ghana.
Nestle Nigeria is one of the 5 member companies of
The Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance
(FBRA) which serves as the sector Producers Responsible Organisation
under the Extended Producers (EPR) scheme.
This alliance has completed the development of a viable collection and
recycling plan with initial focus on the major food and beverage
packaging materials that pose significant challenge for the country’s
national waste management system – PET bottles, plastic/nylon sachets
and aseptic paper.
Nestlé Nigeria aims to contribute to increased collection and recycling
rates across the country, provide employment opportunities through
scalable recycling solutions, and engage with the government to help
tackle the problem of plastic waste. At the same time, we continue to
find ways to avoid the use of packaging where possible.
But this is just the beginning. The bigger ambition for Nestlé
worldwide is to strive for
zero environmental impact
in our global operations by 2030.
By then, we hope the photos breaking news no longer highlight the
negative impact of human activity on our environment, but show what can
be achieved when we work together to shape sustainable consumption and
steward resources for future generations.
We are glad to be showing the way. Everyone can be part of the solution
to reducing plastics by taking individual or collective action.