The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has announced its determination to commence the enforcement of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy in the first quarter of 2016. This was disclosed recently by the agency’s Director-General, Dr. Lawrence Anukam, at a 2-day workshop with stakeholders organized in Lagos to further sensitize companies in the food and beverage sector, in particular, on the EPR operational guidelines released by the agency last year.

Dr. Anukam said the EPR is “the extension of the responsibility of producers, and all entities involved in the product chain, to reduce the cradle-to-cradle impacts of a product and its packaging”. He stressed that the primary responsibility of EPR lies with the producer, who makes design and marketing decisions. He noted that, as a concept and tool, the EPR has become a global best practice operated successfully in several developed and developing countries to deal with the environmental, social and economic challenges of packaging waste. 

While deploring what he described as the slow response by industries generally to the policy, the Director-General acknowledged and commended the exemplary commitment to the EPR programme demonstrated by the Nigerian Beverage Alliance, a growing coalition of beverage companies founded by Coca-Cola in collaboration with Nigerian Bottling Company, Nestle Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries and Seven Up Bottling Company. He said the Alliance is one of only two Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs), along with Resource Renewable Limited, currently recognized by NESREA as the EPR implementation platforms for their respective member companies. “I thank the Nigerian Beverage Alliance for their contributions towards the hosting of this forum. This is an indication of their commitment towards tackling the waste problem in the country”, he said.

The Director for Inspection and Enforcement at NESREA, Mrs Miranda Amachree, who made a presentation on the operational guidelines of the EPR policy, disclosed that the agency has held similar engagements with stakeholders in the automotive and ICT sectors and will continue to avail any opportunity to further discuss the policy with various sectorial groups as part of its preparatory measures for the policy enforcement.

The Coordinator of the Nigerian Beverage Alliance and Public Affairs & Communications Director for Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, Clem Ugorji, said the Alliance decided to sponsor the workshop in order to provide the much needed opportunity for NESREA to clarify some grey areas of the EPR operational guidelines and get feedback from the sector, so that the agency and the industry can work together to achieve the EPR implementation and enforcement in a non-disruptive manner. 

Ugorji presented a case study of the Nigerian Beverage Alliance as a model framework for industry collective action on packaging waste recycling. The Alliance, he said, evolved from the PET bottle-to-fibre recycling programme that Coca-Cola pioneered in 2005 in collaboration with Alkem Nigeria Limited and which has recovered and recycled over 1 billion PET bottles. He explained that Coca-Cola’s three-phase strategy was to first create a proof-point for packaging recycling in Nigeria which was achieved through the partnership with Alkem; then to build a coalition of beverage companies on recycling, which was achieved in 2012 under an MOU arrangement with the current members of the Alliance; and ultimately to leverage the industry coalition to build a sustainable nationwide recycling economy which will now be achieved with the incorporation of the Nigerian Beverage Alliance as a Producer Responsibility Organization to manage the EPR initiatives of member companies in the food and beverage sector.

According to Ugorji, the Nigerian Beverage Alliance is proof positive that companies can compete fiercely in the marketplace and at the same time forge a common front to promote sustainable environment and communities. He said that as part of its PRO operations, the Alliance will be working closely with NESREA and other authorities as well as players in the recycling value chain to implement a nationwide campaign on waste to wealth; boost capacity growth for packaging waste recovery organizations through various forms of interventions; and also support packaging waste recycling plants through a win-win buyback scheme. Membership of the Alliance, he said, is open to all companies in the food and beverage industry as well as manufacturers of allied packaging materials. 

Responding to questions at the workshop, Dr. Anukam said that NESREA was working on a comprehensive sanction and reward scheme for the EPR programme which would be released shortly. He assured that the agency was consulting with other government departments on incentives such as tax rebate for investments made by EPR compliant companies on recycling their packaging waste as well as incentives for investors that establish waste recycling plants in the country. He assured that government through NESREA was committed to creating an enabling environment for the effective implementation of the EPR programme. He said beyond buyback and recycling, the EPR programme also requires manufacturers to design products for reuse, recyclability, and materials reduction; correct market signals to the consumer by incorporating waste management costs into the product’s price; and promote innovation in recycling technology.

Dr. Anukam called on all product manufacturers, importers and distributors to live up to their responsibilities under the EPR policy as outlined in the operational guidelines which can be obtained at the NESREA headquarters in Abuja or any of its zonal offices across the country. He thanked the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) for generously donating its facility for the workshop, noting that this was a demonstration of MAN’s commitment to the EPR programme.

The Director-General of MAN, Dr. Jide Mike, thanked NESREA for the initiative to engage further with industries on the EPR programme. He said that the organized private sector was committed to promoting the environment and was ready to support the EPR programme, noting however that it was necessary to ensure that there was full understanding of the programme, its implementation modalities and role sorts among the various stakeholders, including government. 

Presentations were also made at the workshop by representatives of Alkem Nigeria Limited, Resource Renewable Limited and Wecyclers Limited. 

About Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited

Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited, an active citizen of the community and one of the most respected companies in Nigeria, is a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company, the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands.  Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world's most valuable and recognizable brands, our Company's portfolio includes 20 billion-dollar brands including Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Vitamin Water, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Georgia and Del Valle. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, ready-to-drink coffees, and juices and juice drinks.

Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy our beverages at a rate of more than 1.9 billion servings a day.  With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world's top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 System associates.