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Stakeholders partner on Lagos waste forum, pave way to sustainable circular economy

The Statewide Waste and Environmental Education Project (SWEEP) Foundation hosted the 4th edition of the Lagos Waste Forum in partnership with Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), Coca-Cola Nigeria and ILO in Lagos on Tuesday, September 12, 2023.

Lagos Waste Forum
L-R: Ola Oresanya, Environment Specialist & Board Member, Lagos Waste Forum; Ambassador Obuesi Phillips, President/Convener, Sweep Foundation/Lagos Waste Forum; Belinda Aderonke Odeneye, Board Chairperson, Lagos Waste Forum; and Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director, Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, at the annual Lagos Waste Forum, which held on Tuesday, 12th September, 2023 at the NECA House, Alausa, Lagos State

In his opening remarks while speaking at the event with the theme “Investing in Plastics Recovery for a Circular Economy”, Ambassador Phillips Obuesi, President of the Lagos Waste Forum and SWEEP Foundation, underscored the importance of transforming waste management practices.

He highlighted the need for collaborative efforts, innovation, and open dialogues, emphasising that sharing resources and sustaining advocacy are essential foundations for attracting the investments needed to control pollution.

His words: “Today, there is an on-going global transition from our traditional linear economy to a more sustainable circular economy with a view to addressing and mitigating the harsh realities of climate change due to pollution. Because we have a shared future, it is urgent and necessary to collectively control pollution through waste management. But how do we do this if there are no collective investments in adaptation and mitigation?

“It is due to our shared future that we are gathered here today on the platform of the Lagos Waste Forum to glean from expository keynote speeches, and informative plenaries that will be offered at the forum.”

Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director of Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability at Coca-Cola Nigeria, in her submission emphasised the urgency of addressing global plastic pollution through a multifaceted approach.

“Coca-Cola recognises that the plastic waste problem is both urgent and complex, therefore a collaborative effort is required. In line with our World Without Waste commitment, to helping build a circular economy in the country, we are working to offer innovative packaging design, expand collection and recycling programs and forge strategic alliances with stakeholders including government, NGOs, industry partners and local organizations. We will continue to use the power of our brand to engage consumers in collection and recycling initiatives and build awareness that used plastic bottles can have many lives,” she stressed.

The circular economy concept presents an opportunity for investors, brand owners, producers and policymakers to reshape our planet’s future while achieving significant economic and social returns.

According to the Director of Public Affairs, Communications, and Sustainability at the bottling company, “Coca-Cola system is investing heavily in innovations and sustainable solutions that drives our journey to a World Without Waste. One of this innovation is designing better sustainable bottles like the transition of our Sprite green bottles to clear bottle, using less plastics through light weighting initiatives like our Eva water bottles and adopting 50% recycled content in our packaging by 2030.

“We’re are also investing heavily in the collection eco-system to support existing players to scale, become more efficient and enhance the waste value chain, especially from the lowest players, to increase plastic recovery. This investment led to the birth of various initiatives we are proud of today such as the Waste in the City project, Green Campus project, RESWAYE, Recycles pay, Project Revive, Tidy Nigeria, the Empowering Collectors Initiative, the CyclePlast project among many others,” she added.

Dr. Vanessa Phala-Moyo, Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO), represented by Stephen Agugua, National Project Coordinator, ILO, commended the efforts of the Lagos Waste Forum for the consistency in leading conversations around surmounting waste pollution in our environment and emphasised the need for combined efforts of governments, employers and workers and also the commitment of ILO to waste management.

Speaking further, she said: “We are aware of the significant of plastic waste and fully understand that when waste is well managed, it offers good opportunities in a circular economy and strengthen the global market. It is imperative that we formalise various roles within the waste management ecosystem as it is essential to advocate for the various issues around waste management.

“The ILO has established a platform to ensure competitive pricing that aligns with industry standards for operators. Furthermore, we will create sustainable platforms for micro, medium, and large enterprises engaged in waste management. To this end, I urge all stakeholders to collaborate and enhance the necessary sectors, working collectively towards a brighter future,” he concluded.

Present at the event were prominent figures such as Essien Nsuabia, AGM, Investment and Sustainability, Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA); Ola Oresanya, an Environment Specialist and Board Member of the Lagos Waste Forum; and Belinda Aderonke Odeneye, the Board Chairperson of the Lagos State Waste Forum, among others.

The event ended with presentation of awards to five distinct waste collection groups, including Plastic Build Solutions, Trash Coin, Recycle Edge, Carbon, and the Waste Dealers Association of Nigeria, along with the Association of Scrap Waste Pickers, who all graced the occasion.

By Ajibola Adedoye

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