This World Environment Day, The Coca-Cola Company confirms that it is on track to spend a third of its USD 38 million commitment before the end of this year, to stimulate polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic collection and recycling in Southern and East Africa. World Environment Day is the United Nations Day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.

The investment announced in December 2018 is to take place over three years, is part of Coca-Cola’s ambitious World Without Waste global goal to help collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one it sells by 2030. As part of the programme, the Coca-Cola Company will also create packaging that contains at least 50% recycled material by 2030, meaning less virgin material will be used. The company will also continue pursuing the goal to make all consumer packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.

Since the beginning of this year, the Company with its bottling partners has invested USD 5.125 million to boost recycling industries across eight countries. PET collection and recycling rates are steadily increasing. As a percentage of the PET plastic it sells, the Coca-Cola system in Southern and Eastern Africa is forecasted to close 2019 with an average collection and recycling rate of 80%, led by South Africa at 114%.

“What makes Africa different when it comes to recycling is that every bottle we collect in Africa is recycled in Africa,” says Bruno Pietracci, President of Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa. “This approach brings together different producers along the value chain, creates jobs and stimulates a circular economy where PET packaging has value and life beyond its initial use.”

Vibrant PET recycling industries have been established in Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe on the back of industry collaboration and funding kick-started by the Coca-Cola Company and its main bottling partner across Africa, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.

The majority of the investment to date has been allocated to setting up financial support models for recycling and collection infrastructure. The recycling support is mainly channeled via the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) in South Africa and Kenya and through recycling contracts for small countries to collect in situ, and then export to South Africa to recycle into new products.

In South Africa, PETCO was set up in 2004 by Coca-Cola and other like-minded industries to promote and regulate the recycling of PET after initial use. In 2018, thanks to PETCO, 65% of all PET bottles in South Africa were collected and recycled into new products. Through PETCO, The Coca-Cola Company has achieved its milestone of collecting and recycling more plastic than it puts out in the market – 113% to be precise.

“The voluntary collection and recycling model in South Africa has proven so effective that we are looking at rolling it out in phases to other countries across the continent,” says Pietracci. “Of course, these types of initiatives take time, but they do result in sustainable solutions to the waste challenge, while at the same to creating jobs, boosting economic growth and helping to change consumer behavior in each country.”

Outside of South Africa, Coca-Cola’s largest bottler in Africa, CCBA, has been instrumental in setting up and supporting collection infrastructure. As of May 2019, across eight markets in Southern & East Africa, CCBA is helping collect and recycle on average of 79% of all the PET it puts out into the market.

“Food and beverage packaging is an important part of our modern lives, yet the world has a packaging problem. Like many companies that make products we all love, our packaging has contributed to this global challenge. We recognise our responsibility to help solve this challenge. We are confident about the progressive steps we are making to accelerate the achievement of the World Without Waste ambition,” concluded Bruno Pietracci.