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Creating inclusive value chain in waste recycling for industrial growth

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Fully automated production line of a beverage company in Nigeria.<br />

Industrial waste management and recycling were primarily discussed in the context of environmental preservation. However, with natural resources becoming scarcer and prices of raw materials increasing, many manufacturers are beginning to explore waste recycling in a bid to cut costs and also protect the environment, considering the volume of plastics in the society. FEMI ADEKOYA writes.

Last year, an alliance in the food and beverage sector was unveiled to address the shared concern for the environment and collaborate with all stakeholders to build a sustainable recycling economy for food and beverage packaging waste.

The alliance aims to turn the current challenge of plastic waste in sub-Saharan Africa into an opportunity to create jobs and commercial activity by improving the collection and recycling of plastics.

This is because many cities are often littered with plastic waste, which creates visual nuisance, chokes the drainage system causing floods in urban areas after rainfalls and thus causing health problems, such as malaria and other water borne diseases.

Though carbonated beverages sector is one of the fast-growing sectors in the global beverages market with the estimated market worth of over $340 billion in 2014, the European Commission notes that as much as 10 million tonnes of litter, mostly plastic, end up in the world’s seas and oceans, broken into microplastic, the so-called ‘plastic soup’.

In the recent past, the industry has undergone major changes regarding product innovations and offerings and the market is expected to reach $412.5 billion by 2023 according to Grandview research forecast.

In addition to environmental degradation, failing to recycle plastic also affects resources conservation as much energy and processed raw material is lost instead of being recycled into new products. For instance, by recycling the plastic ‘PET’, up to 80% energy can be saved, that would typically be used when making new plastic bottles.

Presently, there is a global tailoring of economies into competitiveness in a customer-oriented fashion. Organizations’ survival now hinges on customer satisfaction.

A corresponding management technique –Total Quality Management (TQM) is also in place to meet customer satisfaction.

The concepts of Total Quality Management like continuous improvement and the zero-defect call are apt solutions and guides to effective waste management. Total Quality Management guarantees waste eradication, high quality and increased profitability.

According to the Africa Plastics Recycling Alliance, “plastics will remain an important packaging material if we are to give African consumers the safe and affordable products they need.

“However, we need to ensure that used packaging does not end up as litter. Unfortunately, a lack of collection and recycling capacity in many African markets coupled with growing populations is creating a growing problem of plastics waste. We see an opportunity to tackle that problem in a way that creates jobs and reduces dependency on imported materials while alternatives to plastics are developed.

“Collaboration within and across markets will be key to success so we are proud to launch the Africa Plastics Recycling Alliance today to increase those efforts and play our part as companies in finding solutions that work for Africa”, the Alliance added.

Citing its quality management process, the Emmanuel Adeku, Quality Assurance Manager, The La Casera Company Plc, explained that the La Casera Company understands the importance of effective effluent treatment for food and beverage manufacturers, and realizes there are very different challenges in these industries to solve in order to remain compliant and profitable.

“We have experience and technologies to address waste disposal and management problems that have helped us achieve all our goals, including regulatory compliance and the reduction of costs.

“Comprehensive technologies and experience provide solutions for treatment of our waste water from pre-treatment to direct-discharge to the public drain. We ensure that all water returned to the natural environment is treated to the level that supports aquatic life.

“Treated water released into the environment is suitable for use in agriculture as well as supporting plant and animal life. These turnkey solutions helped us realize long-term efficiencies, stringent environmental compliance and overall positive impact to our bottom lines.

“Also, we are in collaboration with our dealers in the collection and recovery of post-consumer Best-Before products as part of our extended producer responsibility initiative. We have integrated sustainability and corporate responsibility into every part of our operations, building long-term shared value for our business and stakeholders.”

On the external efforts toward environmental safety, the Senior Brand Manager, La Casera, Ruth Ode, explained that TLCC has structured its implementation programmes in three categories.

“One, communication and advocacy intervention to educate the populace on proper waste disposal of PET. Two: Partnership with recyclers or off-takers to convert the collected PET to other uses like energy, fibre and textiles. Three: TLCC is also working towards collection of post-consumer waste PET from the environment through designated collectors and placement of bins in strategic locations.

“Besides this, we have a plan of activities, which includes collection of PET in partnership with identified collectors to retrieve and clear PET from streets, landfills and waterways. We are taking responsibility for the entire life cycle of our products. We are taking measures to engage in public awareness campaigns, selective waste collection education and anti-littering campaigns as we believe that littering of our environment is the major culprit in environmental pollution and once this is addressed, our streets, drainages and waterways will be free from by-products,” she said.

The Senior Brand Manager also revealed that in efforts to better manage plastic waste, TLCC is working on a coalition with other manufacturers in the country and in partnership with the Lagos State Government to develop well-organised collection, sorting and recycling schemes across the state.

“As part of this coalition, TLCC would also work with other major industrial companies to integrate sustainable waste management solutions and advocate improved waste management practices in Nigeria”, She said.

Clearly the waste management sector offers valuable pathways to a green economy as it has the potential to generate multiple benefits. However to achieve triple bottom line – social, environmental and economic – impacts and for the sector to develop to its full potential, it is essential to create inclusive and green value chains.


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