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Coca-Cola advancing ‘World Without Waste’ strategy

Photo by Petco

Photo by Petco

Coca-Cola Africa public affairs, communications, and sustainability director Babongile Mandela

20th July 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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Global beverage company, The Coca-Cola Company is committed to sustainability and responsible business practices, exemplified through its World Without Waste strategy, which focuses on creating a circular economy for packaging materials by “designing out” waste and using recyclable materials effectively.

The company employs various packaging formats, such as glass, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, aluminium cans, and refillable options, offering consumers diverse choices to enjoy their favourite brands.

Glass, aluminium and PET plastics are recyclable materials that play a vital role in supporting the circular economy, Coca-Cola Africa public affairs, communications and sustainability director Babongile Mandela says.

The World Without Waste strategy, launched in 2018, sets specific targets for 2025 and 2030 and showcases Coca-Cola’s commitment to sustainability, circular economy principles and empowering consumers to contribute actively to environmental preservation.

"By using innovative packaging design, fostering partnerships and engaging consumers, the company aims to significantly reduce waste, increase recycling rates and create a greener future for generations to come," Mandela notes.

By 2025, Coca-Cola aims to make 100% of its packaging globally recyclable through innovative design. By 2030, at least 50% of its packaging will contain recycled material. Additionally, the company plans to sell at least 25% of its beverages globally in refillable or returnable packaging, further promoting sustainability, Mandela tells Engineering News.

He explains that the strategy revolves around three interconnected pillars, namely collect, design and partner.

“These pillars emphasise the importance of designing recyclable and reusable packaging, enhancing collection efforts and fostering partnerships with stakeholders for a successful circular economy.”

WASTE PICKING & RECYCLING

In South Africa, Coca-Cola partners with producer responsibility organisation PETCO to support waste collection and recycling efforts. Through PETCO, the company collaborates with blockchain company BanQu in Project Up, which uses blockchain technology to create a digital record of recyclables.

“This empowers waste pickers, promotes recycling and strengthens the circular economy,” Mandela says, noting that there are about 90 000 waste pickers in South Africa.

Driven by the knowledge that collected waste can be sold to off-takers, typically buyback centres, Coca-Cola has, as part of its partnership pillar, collaborated with organisations like PETCO and the government to fund and establish buyback centres near landfills and communities.

This is aimed at empowering waste pickers and increasing waste collection efforts, in addition to addressing challenges like unemployment and crime, particularly in rural areas where empowerment is crucial.

Therefore, the company introduced “Project Up”, a partnership with BanQu, funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation and led by PETCO, that empowers waste pickers by revolutionising waste recycling.

BanQu, through the blockchain system, enables a permanent personal record of waste transactions, tracking volumes and empowering waste pickers with financial profiles. This financial empowerment helps waste pickers transition from informal to formal status within the recycling value chain.

“The system also contributes to their safety, which is essential given the vulnerability of unemployed youth and women in South Africa. By providing a digital way of banking and record-keeping, waste pickers can securely transact at buyback centres without carrying large amounts of cash, reducing the risk of becoming victims of crime,” Mandela explains.

He adds that this invaluable tool aligns with Coca-Cola’s commitment to empowering women and youth and supports their goal of creating a world without waste.

CONSUMER ENGAGEMENT

Consumer engagement is a pivotal aspect of Coca-Cola's World Without Waste strategy. The company recognises consumers as essential partners in achieving a world without waste.

Through awareness campaigns, clean-up projects and promoting the three Rs – reuse, refill and reduce – Coca-Cola encourages consumers to actively participate in preserving the environment.

Mandela notes that partnerships with informal waste collectors are “crucial for effective waste management, particularly in regions where formal waste collection may be limited”.

“Empowering waste pickers through financial records and training helps build a safer, more efficient recycling ecosystem,” he concludes.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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