NBC, CAFTON, others advocate joint efforts in tackling plastic pollution

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Industry experts, including Nigeria Bottling Company have advocated for joint efforts in tackling the rising rate of plastic pollution in the country, noting that the government must partner corporate players to find a lasting solution to the menace.

Speaking at a one day symposium organized by the Brand Journalists Association of Nigeria (BJAN) to mark the 2021 World Consumer Rights Day in Lagos, captains and technocrats in the brand and marketing industry, agreed that though plastic is good and beneficial, however, there is the need to control it.

Speaking on the theme; “Tackling Plastic Pollution, Challenges, Solutions and Benefits,” Ifeoma Okoye, Sustainability and Community Affairs Manager, Nigeria Bottling Company, said  plastic bottles have helped the society but there is a need to find a sustainable way of using it.

According to her, there is the need to bring all stakeholders together and scale up the operations of recyclers which would help take off many plastics off the street of Nigeria.

“It is because we have recyclers for cans who go about picking the cans. So, we need the same approach with plastic bottles. Not just the awareness but to create the value chain that must be robust enough.

She said Coca-Cola as a brand has a bank working together with collectors that have expertise in the collection and recycling of used plastic bottles, and has also pioneered the Food and Beverages Recycling Alliance comprising other players in the plastic bottles sector.

Earlier in her remark, the lead speaker, Mrs. Sola Salako-Ajulo, President/Founder of Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFTON) applauded BJAN for fighting the cause of consumers, saying “it is only when media expose issues to policy makers that such issues received attention by the concerned bodies.

She added that human negligence is one of the reasons we experience plastic pollution as people lack proper ways of disposing waste materials especially dumping of plastic waste materials in water channels which go into the oceans and cause harms to lives in water

Mrs. Salako however highlighted the 7 ‘R’s put in place by Consumers International as a way forward to minimize the effect of plastic pollution in our environment. The 7 R include rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, and replace of plastic material to fight against plastic pollution.

Mrs. Shade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries who was represented by Jenifer Uchendu said Nigeria as a consumer of contents of plastics don’t have data to track the amount of plastics companies are releasing into the society and this has made NBC to partner with a research company, KPMG to do thorough research on the amount of plastics the company released into the society.

According to her, the company in its commitment to reduce plastic pollution has changed some of its products bottles to transparent bottles for easy recycling as against coloured bottles which are not easily recyclable.

In her own contribution, Ms. Chineze Amanfo, Lead, Public Relations, 9mobile said plastic has been a blessing in our generations because it made things easy though not with challenges but it’s proper to find a way to manage it so it doesn’t become a curse.

While responding, Mr. Ayo Oluwatosin, member, Board of Trustee, Association of Communications Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) said both the government and individuals have roles to play in tackling plastic pollution in the society. He pointed out that there is a need for advocacy events by the media to let the government and individuals know what should be done in clear terms.

While speaking, the president of BJAN, Princewill Ekwujuru said the raison d’etre of the event was to put together industry thought leaders to find a lasting solution to the rising plastics pollution in the society and ways to manage it. He said the event which was held both virtually and physically was a result of the Covid-19 challenges the world is facing which has prompted the reduction in large gatherings.